About one in four new marriages in New York City is a same sex marriage. Under the Marriage Equality Act, gay and lesbian couples can benefit from a variety of different estate plans. Inheritance, Retirement, Trusts, Medicaid coverage and more can be afforded to your spouse now that these laws are in place. There are a number of important legal documents that can now be made and signed by you and your spouse.

Pre- and Postnuptial Agreements

With any marriage, prenuptial agreements can be an important first step in developing your estate plan with your new spouse. Developing a prenuptial agreement with your estate attorney is almost essential for protection in today’s world where approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce. These agreements can establish property and ownership rights and the rules of your marriage.


As with traditional marriages, living trusts can be established between you and your spouse. Trusts can be used for financial planning goals and to avoid probate costs. A living trust may be beneficial in providing a method of management for one’s assets in the event of incapacity or death.. Trusts and Wills created within the marriage are harder to fight in court.

Plans of Disposition

As a married couple, consideration should be given to establishing a plan of disposition to include distribution of your estate assets and guardianship of your minor children (natural, adopted or stepchildren). In some states, without a marriage license, a same sex couple may be treated as if they were strangers with regard to the wellbeing of children or the health and wellbeing of each other..

Tax Benefits

Marriage affords a couple several income and estate tax benefits which are now available to same sex couples. Along with these tax benefits is the ability to avoid potential legal consequences and/or taxation on gifts, retirement funds or medical benefits

Estate Planning Documents

From a legal standpoint, one of the most important points of marriage equality is the right to equal opportunity in estate planning. Implementation of documents wherein agents are designated to manage your health care decisions and financial matters as well as a Last Will and Testament which sets forth the disposition of your estate upon death and direction as to the care and wellbeing of minor children is most essential in an estate plan . For health benefits in your estate plans, your spouse can legally act as your health care proxy and exemptions for benefits. It is also important to create legal documents regarding minor or disabled children.

For more than 40 years, our firm has been assisting people like you with long term care and estate planning needs. We bring you the knowledge and resources to protect you and your family. Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice by articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Call 718.477.7700 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with an estate planning attorney at Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC. We proudly serve Staten Island, Brooklyn and the other boroughs of New York City.