Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage Complicates Prior Estate Planning Devices

A New York Times article six years ago reported on the use of adult adoption as an estate planning tool for same-sex couples who were prohibited by law from marrying.  The technique allows a same-sex partner to share as a beneficiary in a family trust to which the person would not be entitled if not a family member. Last week the Doylestown-Buckingham-New Britain Patch reported on how this kind of arrangement has fared as same-sex marriage becomes legal in many states. Bill Novak and Norman MacArthur are a same-sex couple who have been together for more than 50 years and were registered as domestic partners in New York City. When they moved to Pennsylvania, their lawyer advised them to use the adoption strategy for estate planning purposes.  So in 2000, Novak adopted MacArthur.  But now that same-sex marriage is permitted in Pennsylvania, the two would like to marry.  However this required vacating the adoption decree.  In a precedent-setting decision on May 14, the Orphans Court of Bucks County  granted their Petition to Vacate, and the couple applied for and received a marriage license the same day.  They expect to actually marry soon.