Maryland same-sex couples may wonder what effect the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the Defense of Marriage Act will have on their lives. The Court found that provisions of DOMA related to federal benefits for same-sex couples are unenforceable. One of the primary questions that couples have is what happens in a situation where they were legally married in one state but live in a state that refuses to recognize their relationship and how that may affect taxes, estate administration and other aspects of daily life.
A federal task force has been created to determine when federal benefits might be extended to same-sex couples depending on where they celebrated their unions as opposed to where they live when they apply. The force will look at whether an executive order, Congressional legislation or agency rule can be created to ensure that couples get the benefits to which they are entitled.
Another way to ensure receipt of benefits is for couples to consider moving to a state that does recognize their relationship. Couples who have civil unions or domestic partnerships may wish to get legally married to ensure that the government recognizes their relationships. Couples currently living in places that recognize their marriages now have the option of amending prior federal tax returns to reflect their married status. Some couples may reduce their tax liability by filing as "married" rather than as "single."
A local attorney may be able to help same-sex couples determine if they would benefit from amending tax returns and advise on what other federal benefits have become available to them. An attorney may also be able to review and revise estate plans or documents such as wills in accordance with the new laws to ensure that each couple's goals are met.