Not good R.I.: Despite civil-union law, gay spouses excluded from tax exemption



Susan Gershkoff, a Lincoln lawyer specializing in estate planning, thought that the state’s recently passed civil-union law would allow her gay clients to take advantage of a significant benefit that married couples receive: an exemption from the Rhode Island estate tax.

She was wrong.

The reason is that the tax — currently applicable when an estate exceeds $859,350, but not when an estate is passed on to a surviving spouse –– is closely tied to federal law.

And federal law is subject to the Defense of Marriage Act, in which the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.


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