Gay Elderly Man Adopts His Partner to Bypass Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax
A gay man in Pennsylvania has chosen to adopt his partner of 45 years in order to bypass state laws that would force either of them to pay a hefty inheritance tax in the event that one of them died.
While the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday, the state of Pennsylvania still defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Gay couples still will not receive equal benefits in the state. So unlike the heterosexual married couples, gay couples have no right to inherit from each other without paying an inheritance tax.
John Francis, 65, and his 73-year-old partner Gregory became worried about what would happen if one of them died. That’s when John decided to adopt Gregory, ABC News reported.
"If we just live together and Gregory willed me his assets and property and anything else, I would be liable for a 15 percent tax on the value of the estate," John said. "By adoption, that decreases to 4 percent. It's a huge difference."
Despite being eight years younger, John adopted Gregory because Gregory’s father is still alive at 95, and he could not legally have two fathers.
"It's humorous to me," John said. "Gregory was a high school and college jock. Today, I am making dough for blueberry crostata, and he is golfing. You're going to think of him as the dad, rather than me … But it provided us with some level of comfort that we have protected each other as much as we can."
Inheritance tax law in Pennsylvania puts zero percent tax on transfers to a surviving legal spouse. Descendants and lineal heirs would pay a 4.5 percent tax on the estate. Any other heirs would pay a 15 percent tax. Adopting Gregory moved the couple into the 4.5 percent bracket.
"As tremendous as the victory was at the Supreme Court, it was a victory half-finished," said Janson Wu, a lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD.
“I think it’s going to be odd for people to be recognized in some states but not in others," Christine Bryan of LGBT advocacy group Delta Foundation told CBS station KDKA. "So I think in some respect the state’s hand is going to be forced."