Same Sex Couples in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s DOMA law (Defense of Marriage Act), despite was struck down in May 2014 by a federal court in Whitewood v. Wolf. For same-sex couples, Pennsylvania now has marriage equality, which makes the state more welcoming to same-sex couples.

Whitewood v. Wolf has the following implications for same sex couples in Pennsylvania:

  • Same-sex couples in Pennsylvania can now get married in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania does not recognize common law marriages.
  • Pennsylvania will now recognize an out-of-state marriage between two men or two women.
  • Same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania are now legal, which has significant implications for Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax purposes. In Pennsylvania, legally married couples pay 0% to transfer assets to each other upon death. Prior to Whitewood v. Wolf, same-sex couples, even if they were married, had to pay a 15% inheritance tax.

Pennsylvania is one of many states to have their DOMA law struck down in the last year. Governor Corbett has decided not to challenge this ruling, effectively making it law. The PA Legislature could always attempt to pass a new law, but the likelihood of this seems slight.

There are strategies that same-sex couples and same-sex families who reside in Pennsylvania can employ to create a better estate plan, taking advantage of all the tax savings available to you. For more information, contact my office today at (215) 706-0200. Jeremy A. Wechsler regularly assists same-sex couples in Pennsylvania, including Bucks County, Philadelphia and Montgomery County, and can help your family maximize tax planning strategies.