Need to Know: Obergefell v. Hodges Decision on Same Sex Marriage Will Impact Planning

Robin Weingast Obergefell v. Hodges    This month, the Supreme Court issued its ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that was poised to determine the future of marriage equality in the United States. With their 5-4 ruling, the Court struck down state-level bans on same-sex marriages and mandated that all states must recognize a same-sex marriage, regardless of where it occurred. This means that all married same-sex couples are now entitled to full benefits under the law – in all 50 states (and US territories).

As marriage equality advocates rejoice nationwide, the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team is here to help you understand what this ruling means for planning:

Healthcare: Someone in a same-sex marriage can no longer be excluded from their spouse’s healthcare, long-term care, or guardianship decisions.

– TaxesSame-sex couples will now enjoy federal and state-level tax benefits. They can file jointly on the state level – which was not possible previously in states where same-sex marriage was either banned or not recognized – and are eligible to take full advantage of all tax breaks.

– Survivorship: This issue was at the core of Obergefell v. Hodges. Although federal-level benefits have been available to same-sex surviving spouses since 2013, with this ruling, a surviving same-sex spouse will be legally recognized and entitled to all benefits, including those on the state level. This is particularly important when considering governmental benefits, custody of children, and any other financial benefits.

Intestacy: If a spouse dies without a legally recognized will (known as “intestacy”), the surviving same-sex spouse will have automatic spousal inheritance rights.

Understanding the new benefits available to same-sex couples is just the first step. As always, the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team recommends that all couples plan proactively and prepare themselves for all situations that may arise. Our team is here to work with you and make sure your wishes are followed out at all stages of your life. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Need to Know: Tibble vs. Edison International

Robin Weingast benefits plans    While most of the country was focused on decisions that would impact the Affordable Care Act as well as marriage equality, The Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Tibble vs. Edison International changes the amount of fiduciary responsibility that is expected from plan administrators.

The basic framework of the decision asserts “that fiduciaries who select investment options for 401(k) plans have a continuing duty under ERISA to monitor their selections and remove imprudent options.”

For many administrators in the industry, that statement seems fairly obvious; good plan advisors have an obligation to perform a routine evaluation of their investment choices and must make choices that will benefit those covered by the plan.

The piece of the decision that caught the eye of plan administrators nationwide was the justice’s further assertion that prior rulings from the court had “erred by applying a 6-year statutory bar based solely on the initial selection of the three funds without considering the contours of the alleged breach of fiduciary duty.” This has plan administrators wondering what will now be considered sufficient due diligence when it comes to monitoring and removing investment options. Will this decision “reset” ERISA’s six-year review clock?

The long-term implications of the decision are unclear, and some legal analysts are critical that the decision is not that practically applicable and signals a new era of judicial involvement in plan administration.

What is outlined clearly are certain general trust principles that would apply to an ERISA investment fiduciary. These include that:

– A regular review of investments is required with the nature and timing contingent on the circumstances

– A systematic review of investments must occur at regular intervals

– An investment review is to be done in a manner that is reasonable and appropriate to the particular investments, courses of action and strategies involved

– If investments are inappropriate, they must be disposed of within a reasonable time

As plan administrators, The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team takes fiduciary responsibility seriously. Our goal is to be thorough in our review process while being nimble enough to respond what’s happening in real-time. We have the experience and expertise to strike the perfect balance between being fiscally responsible, timely, and cognizant of our client’s business goals.

If you have questions about what this decision means for your plan, please contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team today.

Resource of the Month: Solo 401 (k)’s

Robin_Weingast_solo-401k-rulesMaking the right choice about a retirement plan can be daunting – there are so many options and constantly changing regulations. But if you’re one of the almost 15 million Americans who is self employed, choosing the right retirement plan can be even more overwhelming. That may be why close to 70% of self-employed people are not saving for retirement and 30% of self-employed Americans are not saving at all.

Self-employed people have many more options than they may realize, and our latest Resource of the Month focuses on one of the most popular options: a Solo 401 (k). From a rundown on how the plan works to information on how much you can contribute as well as a pro/con list, you’ll have the information you need about this popular option for self-employed people.

Download our June Resource of the Month.

Want to know if a Solo 401 (k) is right for you? Contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team for advice on how you can prepare for retirement when you’re your own boss.