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By Christine Benz | 09-25-2013 10:00 AM

Planning: New Rights, New Rules for Same-Sex Couples

The Supreme Court's DOMA ruling, as well as a subsequent IRS ruling, have important implications for financial and estate planning for same-sex couples.

Christine Benz: I'm Christine Benz for Morningstar.com.

The Supreme Court's recent ruling regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as the subsequent IRS ruling, has important implications for financial and estate planning for same-sex couples.

Joining me to discuss some of them is Jill Metz. She's a local attorney who specializes in estate planning for same-sex couples.

First of all, thank you so much for being here. I am sure your phone lines have been burning up with people with questions about these issues, so I am glad to have you.

Jill Metz: Thank you very much for inviting me. I enjoy doing it.

Benz: Jill, let's start with the headline: The Supreme Court struck down a key component of the Defense of Marriage Act, often called DOMA. What did it hold in the ruling?

Metz: In the Edie Windsor case, it ruled that the federal government could no longer discriminate against same-sex couples who are legally married, which is huge. It's the only time the federal government has written in discrimination, and that's gone.

Benz: Specifically, though, it held up another component of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Metz: It didn't address it, because it wasn't part of the case. So [the Supreme Court] hasn't really had that issue put before it, and that issue is whether one state has to recognize the marriage of another state. And that's still on the books.

Benz: Let's discuss whether there are implications for couples in other types of unions, whether civil unions or domestic partnerships. What are the implications for them under the Supreme Court ruling?

Metz: It's very clear that civil unions and domestic partnerships do not get federal benefits. So if you are married, you get federal benefits, you get all the recognition at the federal level that is available. Civil unions and domestic partnerships do not. And so the argument that people have been using that domestic partnerships and civil unions are the equivalent of marriage, and so why do we need marriage, is gone.

Benz: A few months after the Supreme Court's ruling, the IRS came out with a separate but related ruling. Let's talk about what was contained within that ruling. And then I'd like to get into some of the implications of that for planning for same-sex couples.

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