Estate Planning

Gay Marriage Becomes Legal in Washington State – Estate Planning Impact

By December 20, 2012 No Comments

As you are aware, Washington voters recently approved Referendum 74, legalizing gay marriage. The new law took effect on December 6, 2012. How might this change impact your estate planning?

Changes to Washington Registered Domestic Partnerships.

  • If you currently have a Washington State domestic partner, here are some key points you should know:
  • If you decide to marry your partner, your domestic partnership will be dissolved on the date of your marriage.
  • If  both of you are younger than age 62, and you decide not to get married – your domestic partnership will be automatically converted into a marriage as of June 30, 2014. An exception exists if you’re in the process of a dissolution, annulment, or legal separation as of that date.
  • If one of you is 62 years of age or older, your relationship will not automatically be converted into a marriage. You can choose whether to get married or to leave your domestic partnership as is. You should seek legal advice when making this choice, to make sure that getting marriage would not negatively impact you in terms of pension rights, Social Security benefits, etc.

Ability to Access Washington Marital Deduction.

If you have a Washington domestic partnership or gay marriage, and you have tax planning mechanisms in your Will such as a disclaimer trust or a credit shelter trust, the new law will enhance your ability to minimize or avoid Washington estate tax. However, it will not change anything concerning federal estate tax. (Stay tuned to further updates on whether future U.S. Supreme Court rulings may impact the federal marital deduction!). Specifically, prior to the passage of Referendum 74, Washington domestic partners were scheduled to be able to utilize these tax planning mechanisms, just like Washington heterosexual married couples can, as of January 1, 2014. The good news is that, if you decide to get married, these tax planning benefits can be available to you right now! You don’t need to wait.

If you have any questions about these changes in Washington law, and how they might impact any estate planning documents you presently have in place, please do not hesitate to contact my office.


Stacey L. Romberg

Attorney at Law


This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.

(206) 784-5305