October 01, 2016

Estate Planning for Same Sex Couples: Public and Private Benefits (Federal and State)

Joan M. Burda

Reprinted with permission from Joan M. Burda, Ch. 13, "Public and Private Benefits (Federal and State)," in Estate Planning for Same Sex Couples (3d Ed. 2016), at 225-47. Copyright © 2015 by the American Bar Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.


In 1997, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report listing 1,049 federal statutory provisions concerning benefits, rights, and privileges that were contingent on marital status.1 The GAO updated that report in January 2004.2 As of December 2003, the GAO identified 1,138 federal statutes that used marital status as a deciding factor in providing benefits, rights, and privileges.

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