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Probate implications of the same-sex marriage decision

As our readers have likely heard, last week, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal throughout the entire nation. This will have some major implications here in Texas, as Texas was one of the states that did not legally recognize such marriages. An important thing to note is that these implications are not limited to just the area of family law. The Supreme Court's decision has implications for many areas of law here in Texas, including estate planning and probate.

For one, the decision leads to a major change when it comes to Texas probate cases in which the deceased person did not leave a will and was a member of a long-term same-sex relationship. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, when same-sex marriage was not legally recognized in the state, the deceased's surviving same-sex partner would have no spousal inheritance rights under the state's intestacy laws.

However, now that states are required to legally recognize same-sex marriages, a surviving same-sex partner would have spousal inheritance rights under such intestacy laws as long as they and the deceased were in fact legally married. 

As this illustrates, the same-sex marriage decision may have some very big impacts when it comes to Texas probate cases involving individuals in same-sex relationships. The decision also has implications when it comes to what sorts of estate planning considerations come before same-sex couples and what sorts of estate planning options such couples have. Texas same-sex couples who have questions about what their legal situation now is in the state when it comes to estate planning and probate laws should consider speaking with a lawyer. 

Source: Forbes, "Tax, Estate Planning, Benefits Opportunities After Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Decision," Ashlea Ebeling, June 26, 2015

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