65-Year-Old Gay Man Adopts 73-Year-Old Partner To Avoid Inheritance Tax

adopting-gay-coupleDue to discriminatory inheritance laws in their home state of Pennsylvania, a couple that has been together for over 45 years took a drastic step to protect themselves: one of them adopted the other.

ABC reports:

Now, as lifelong partners facing the financial and emotional insecurities of old age, they have legally changed their relationship and are father and son — John, 65 [right], has adopted Gregory, 73.

The couple was worried about Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax.

“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,” said John. “By adoption, that decreases to 4 percent. It’s a huge difference.”

Because John’s dad is still alive at 95, he could not legally have two fathers. So Gregory, though older, became the adopted son. The Daughin County Court judge who signed their papers was adamant in telling them that the adoption was “forever” and they would never be able to legally marry.

Though the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, ensuring inheritance tax breaks and over 1,000 other rights to same-sex couples, the ruling only applies to states in which same-sex marriage is legal. Pennsylvania is one of the 37 states to not yet embrace marriage equality. John and Gregory had considered marrying in another state, but since Pennsylvania was their primary residence, they still would have been subject to its inheritance laws.

Janson Wu, a lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said he’d seen “a few cases” of gay couples resorting to adoption, but noted that “is it really more of a relic at a time when same-sex couples had no other means to protect their families.”

Gregory has been retired for the past 10 years while John, head of an HIV/AIDS program in the state health department for 25 years, is semi-retired. After their lawyer filed all the necessary paperwork, the couple had a quick 15-minute court hearing. When the judge asked them the reason for the adoption, John said it was the “only legal option to protect ourselves from Pennsylvania’s inheritance taxes.”

He said the judge “got it immediately” and signed the adoption papers on the spot. Handing the papers to the clerk, the judge turned and looked at John and said, “Congratulations, it’s a boy.” All jokes aside, John and Gregory still managed to find something to laugh about in their otherwise serious and unfortunate situation.

“It’s humorous to me,” he 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.”

Photo: Courtesy of the family/ABC News

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  • Dakotahgeo

    I LOVE IT!!! Time to wake up and smell the coffee, PA!!! You’ll soon be one of the next states to legalize Marriage Equality!!! It’s about time!! (Ohhhhhh, I can hear the nasty saber-rattling from the far right already, lolol!).

  • Meowzer

    PA is the most bass ackward state… coming from someone who lives in PA. My husband is 14 years older than me, so maybe this is worth us looking in to… he could adopt me :)
    The only way PA will get same sex marriage is if they’re drug kicking and screaming by the Supreme Court.

  • miagoodguy


  • Dakotahgeo

    @Meowzer: Thank you, Meowzer, but I think Kansas and Missouri are smelling PA’s ass in this race, lolol. These politicians couldn’t tie their shoelaces without a video to explain! Kansas should have been the ‘Show-me’ state; Missouri would well qualify for the ‘Sow-me-Again’ State! It’s the truth! PS: I love your handle name!

  • Dakotahgeo

    @miagoodguy: Heyyyy… whatever works! Whatever works!!!

  • BigWoody

    @miagoodguy: How is adoption “counterproductive” for these men at 73 and 65 years old?

    I am a single, 54 year old gay man living in Ohio with no heirs. I want to adopt my 24 year old bi-boi who happens to be married (no judgement please). For five years he has told everyone I am his dad. He recently moved next door to me. Our sexual relationship evolved and ended when he got married. BTW, I have never supported him financially, and he doesn’t know I want to adopt him. We both love each other like father and son. If I have no partner before I die I would prefer he have my estate than a distant relative whom I do not know. We in the LGBT community have had to make our own families over many years before the possibility of gay marriage was imagined.

    I will not wait until I am 73 for marriage in Ohio. I will not risk dying and losing so much money to unfair taxes, or risk litigation over giving my estate to a non-relative. If we do not have marriage in Ohio, I will attempt to adopt, whomever it may be, to pass-on my estate.

  • EvonCook

    Why can I not forward or share this article??? Where are the icons for sharing?? (Not facebook or Linked In) Just forward or share??

  • balehead

    This is just tax cheating…..not equal rights…

  • Patsy Stoned

    balehead, this is desperation, dealing with a system that has fucked these men over for their entire lives. Big difference.

  • Harley

    @balehead: I think you need to look at the REAL tax cheats like Starbucks, Facebook, GE, and every wealthy individual like Mitt Romney who stows cash away in off-shore tax shelters. I don’t have a Swiss bank account. I don’t know ANYONE who has a Swiss bank account. Shoot your arrows toward then REAL tax cheats.

  • Spike

    @miagoodguy: How so? You would prefer they sit patiently for marriage equality in PA, in the mean time if one dies, they have the honor of paying estate tax to the Govt.?

  • Merv

    Stacy Keach is gay?

  • LoveOlder

    wow he is a very attractive older man would love to speak to him

Comments are closed.