Survivor Benefits for Unborn Children: Supreme Court Ruling Sides With State Law

Estate Planning Practice Group

By Estate Planning Practice Group



The Supreme Court ruled on May 21, 2012 in Astrue v. Capato that twins conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of their father were not eligible for survivor’s benefits through the Social Security Administration, upholding the Social Security Administration’s previous determination. According to the Court’s opinion, Mr. Capato lived in Florida at the time of his death. Under Florida law, the children do not qualify for inheritance through intestate succession (the children are not considered heirs of their father’s estate) and are ineligible to receive survivor benefits.

Florida law requires that in order for children to qualify for an inheritance, they must be born or conceived prior to the death of the parent. Because the Capato children were born 18 months after the death of their father, they were not considered to be his children for inheritance purposes under the law. Consequently, the Social Security Administration determined that the children were not eligible for survivorship benefits.

Unlike Florida, Missouri statute provides that all posthumous children (children born after the death of a parent) inherit as if they were born during the lifetime of the deceased parent, as do grandchildren and further descendants. However, other heirs, such as siblings or cousins, must be born and capable to take their share, prior to the death of the deceased.

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Considerations Before Popping the Question: What the Law Has to Say and What You Should Know

Estate Planning Practice Group

By Estate Planning Practice Group



Part of a monthly multi-part series of discussions aimed at explaining legal and financial considerations for young professionals as they establish and develop their careers, relationships and lives.

The state where you reside shapes and defines what marriage is and what it means for you and your fiancée through its laws and licensing requirements. Because these laws and requirements govern very intimate aspects of our lives, they can be emotionally and financially significant. This discussion sets forth several legal considerations to keep in mind as you travel towards the big day.

Living Together Before Marriage

On December 14, 2011, the Pew Research Center released a report concluding that the number of young adults waiting to get married is on the rise. The study also concluded that cohabitation has risen to its highest level in decades. Cohabitation has its benefits; however, it can also have drawbacks.

In the state of Missouri, simply living together does not affect any property either of you own. Upon break up, you are each entitled to your own property. The situation becomes more complicated when you begin purchasing real estate or personal property together or if you pay off each other’s financial obligations. Depending upon the circumstances, a court may require one party to compensate the other. Paying for your share of the fifty dollar rug you purchased together is one thing, but what about your share of that car? Or the house?

Plan on moving to another state? In some states, merely living together can have great implications. Depending on where you live, who you live with, and how you present yourself, you might find it interesting that in the eyes of the state, you might already be characterized as married. Known as a “common-law marriage” and contracted in a handful of states, this type of marriage carries with it the same rights, responsibilities and obligations of a traditional marriage, including those in divorce.

Who Gets the Ring?

You’re a huge Cardinals fan. You find out she has been hiding from you that she is a dyed-in-the-wool Cubs fan and don’t think you can ever forgive her. The engagement is off. Now what? What about that ring you saved for months to buy her?

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Estate Planning for Young Professionals: Why Considering Your Death is Important Even at this Age

Estate Planning Practice Group

By Estate Planning Practice Group



Part of a monthly multi-part series of discussions aimed at explaining legal and financial considerations for young professionals as they establish and develop their careers, relationships and lives

It’s probably a safe bet that most people in their twenties and thirties have not given much thought to estate planning. Short of a first child or a friend asking if you want life insurance, planning for what will happen when you die probably hasn’t come up and why should it? You’ve got youth and health on your side. Moreover, you probably don’t have a lot of assets at this point.

So why is it important? Planning for the future encompasses much more than where your property goes upon your death. Estate planning can also cover:

  • who handles your finances if you are out of town,
  • who makes medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated, and
  • who becomes your guardian if a court declares you incompetent.

With these thoughts in mind, you may want to reflect upon the following considerations:

What Happens to My Assets?

You have more than you think you have. Even if you don’t own a home or a wall safe full of bullion, you still have assets and they need to be distributed somehow and to someone. Consider the following examples: bank accounts, savings accounts, stock, bonds, 401ks, IRAs, other retirement accounts, automobiles, clothes, art, appliances, and furniture. Chances are you have at least one of these things and more than likely you have a few. Maybe you’d like your friend to get your watch or a fund be set aside for your nephew’s college fund. Estate planning assists in sorting out who gets what and when.

What Happens to My Children?

If you have children and are single, chances are you may have spoken with someone about taking care of your children in the event you pass. However, without any sort of document proving these intentions, how will the State know what to do? If you are married with children, your spouse will take on the responsibility, but what if you die at the same time? Or get divorced? Your children’s future should be your decision and not left up to the State or a court system.

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IRS Publishes Guidelines for Domestic Partners and Same-Sex Spouses

Estate Planning Practice Group

By Estate Planning Practice Group



The IRS has published guidelines for domestic partners in community property states and same-sex spouses in California.

Each year, many LGBT couples must complete two separate and completely different tax returns. For states recognizing same-sex marriage or allowing the registration of domestic partners, the couple may be able to file jointly for their state tax return. Then, due to the provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the couple must individually complete separate federal tax returns.

The IRS guidelines help with couples in which an individual may be eligible for head of household status and clarify that each member of the couple must file a separate tax return.

For more information, click here:Questions and Answers for Registered Domestic Partners in Community Property States and Same-Sex Spouses in California.”

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