Marriage affects your finances in many ways, including your ability to build wealth, plan for retirement, plan your estate, and capitalize on tax and insurance-related benefits. There are, however, two important caveats. First, same-sex marriages are recognized for federal income and estate tax reporting purposes. However, each state determines its own rules for state taxes, inheritance rights, and probate, so the legal standing of same-sex couples in financial planning issues may still vary from state to state. Second, a prenuptial agreement, a legal document, can permit a couple to keep their finances separate, protect each other from debts, and take other actions that could limit the rights of either partner.
If both you & your spouse are employed, two salaries can be a considerable benefit in building long-term wealth. For example, if both of you have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans and each contributes $18,000 a year, as a couple you are contributing $36,000, far in excess of the maximum annual contribution for an individual ($18,000 for 2016). Similarly, a working couple may be able to pay a mortgage more easily than a single person can, which may make it possible for a couple to apply a portion of their combined paychecks for family savings or investments.
Some (but not all) pensions offer benefits to widows or widowers following a pensioner’s death. When partaking in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, married workers are obligated to name their spouse as beneficiary unless the spouse waives this right in writing. Qualifying widows or widowers can collect Social Security benefits up to a maximum of 50% of the benefit earned by a deceased spouse.
Married couples may transfer real estate and personal property to a surviving spouse with no federal gift or estate tax penalties until the survivor dies. But surviving spouses do not automatically receive all assets. Couples who desire to structure their estates in such a way that each spouse is the sole beneficiary of the other need to create wills or other estate planning documents to ensure that their wishes are realized. In the absence of a will, state laws governing disposition of an estate take effect. Also, types of trusts, such as QTIP trusts and marital deduction trusts, are limited to married couples.
When filing federal income taxes, filing jointly may result in lesser tax payments when compared with filing separately.
In certain conditions, creditors may be able to attach marital or community property to satisfy the debts of one spouse. Couples wishing to protect against this practice may do so with a prenuptial agreement.
Marriage may improve a partner’s ability to collect financial support, such as alimony, should the relationship dissolve. Although single people do adopt, many adoption agencies show a preference for households that include a marital relationship.
The prospect to go through life with a loving partner may be the greatest advantage of a successful marriage. That said, there are financial & legal benefits that you may want to explore with your beloved before tying the knot.
Recently married? Reach out to myself or any of the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS® at Wealthnest Planners for a free one hour financial physical, to assure your now joint financial situation is in order. You can reach us at www.wealthnest.com or call 480-699-5275