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When a Woman Loves a Woman: Another Federal Judge Strikes Down DOMA — Part II

Update: The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in Windsor v. United States.

Update: On Friday, December 7, 2012, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear arguments in Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry. These cases, addressing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 will mark the first time the Supreme Court has addressed the question of same-sex marriage.

Update: On October 18, 2012, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion striking down the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (“DOMA”) in the ACLU and NYCLU’s Windsor v. United States case. The Court decided that when government discriminates against lesbians and gay men, the discrimination should be presumed to be unconstitutional. The Second Circuit was not the first appeals court to strike down DOMA,

Will SCOTUS Eviscerate DOMA? What Effects Could That Have on Tax Planning?

Today and tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in two cases that could change the scope of marriage in the United States. Today, the Court is hearing oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, and tomorrow, the Court will be hearing oral arguments in the case of United States v. Windsor.

The cases contain a myriad of questions, but if the Court decides to get past the procedural questions and issue rulings on the substance, significant changes could be in store regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) and the federal treatment of same-sex marriages. For a discussion of all of the various constitutional issues the Court may address in these cases, see Erwin Chemerinsky’s article, “Chemerinsky: Same-sex marriage battle goes before the Supreme Court“.

Trustee Was Authorized To Convey – Not Distribute – Property To Estate Of Deceased Trust Beneficiary


Time to get into the weeds on the scope of a trustee‘s powers.  There are basically two sources of power for a trustee – the trust instrument and state law.  Where those two intersect, overlap, conflict, or diverge is where you will likely find the bulk of fiduciary litigation about trustee powers.

$5 Million Federal Estate Tax Exemption Doesn’t Mean You’re Safe From Tax at Death

Written with assistance from our Spring Extern Debra Faulkner

When the American Taxpayer Relief Act was enacted in early January, for many Americans, it all but eliminated the concern over the estate and gift taxes by making the $5,000,000 exemption (indexed for inflation) permanent. While the new law provides clarity and a sense of permanency, beware of becoming too complacent: 21 states and the District of Columbia still have estate or inheritance taxes. Two states – Maryland and New Jersey – have both.

The state estate and inheritance tax legislation, much like the federal estate tax legislation, has been notoriously volatile. In 2001, all 50 states had some form of death-time transfer tax, either an estate or an inheritance tax. In 2013, only 21 states have an estate or inheritance tax and in two of those states – Delaware and Tennessee – the taxes are set to expire. The exemption

Bryan Cave Pro Bono Efforts on Behalf of Marriage Equality

Marshall appealOn February 28, several Bryan Cave lawyers, including Bill HibsherLee Marshall,  Katherine Keating, David Greene, Robert Esposito, and Liz Kukura, filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, et al.  Their brief, filed pro bono on behalf of the Family Equality Council and five other family and children groups, focuses on the impact that marriage inequality has on the children of LGBT parents.

Private Client and Tax Attorneys in the News

New Irvine Partner Renee Gabbard and New York Of Counsel Edward Peck were highlighted Feb. 22 in The Am Law Daily for their recent move to the firm. Both will practice with our Private Client Group. Also joining them from their old firm is Associate Megan Acosta, who will work in our Irvine office.

New York Counsel Alan Appel was quoted Feb. 14 by Law360 concerning the U.S.- Switzerland FATCA agreement. Switzerland recently agreed to implement a tough law requiring its banks to turn over information on accounts held by U.S. citizens in an effort to help catch U.S. tax evaders. Getting Switzerland to sign on to FATCA – the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act – was a big step forward in extending the law’s reach, Appel said. “It shows Switzerland is not going to fight this and they’ve ordered their financial institutions to comply,” he

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