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LGBT Older Adults and Estate Tax and Inheritance

September 2010 | Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), Movement Advancement Project (MAP)

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Unlike their heterosexual counterparts, unless an LGBT elder has specific legal documents in place upon their death, state laws generally hand over financial decision-making and inheritance to spouses or blood relatives rather than domestic partners or families of choice. This means that surviving LGBT partners or other loved ones can be totally shut out of an inheritance, resulting in the loss of critical retirement savings, forfeiture of a family home, or impoverishment. Additionally, even when a surviving partner does inherit a deceased loved one's assets, inequitable tax treatment of same-sex couples can mean paying 45 percent in taxes on an inheritance that a surviving heterosexual spouse would inherit tax free. One of eleven issue briefs based on the SAGE/MAP report Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults.


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