Marriage and Moola

All set to go to a California city hall? Think about the financial costs first.



At a recent
financial planning presentation we gave in Washington, D.C.,
a man announced that he and his partner were flying to
California to get married, joining the thousands
who’ve done the same since June 17. The couple
already had a civil union in Vermont, a registered domestic
partnership in the District of Columbia, and a Canadian
marriage license. Why had they collected so many
certificates? Symbolism, he said.

While it may be
important to these fellows and many other same-sex
couples to memorialize their relationship in myriad ways,
the resulting financial implications can be
complicated. And with marriage in California open to
gay couples nationwide, state and federal laws
concerning same-sex relationships are being tested like
never before.

If you’re
thinking of tying the knot, here are some things you should

For starters,
it’s important to remember that the Defense of
Marriage Act prevents same-sex couples from receiving
the federal benefits currently available to
heterosexual married couples. So you can forget about
getting any federal breaks come tax time next year. And you
shouldn’t expect access to your
partner’s Social Security benefits should he or she
die, although the Social Security Administration did advise
its employees in a June 6 memo that instructions were
being prepared concerning the impact of California
marriage equality on agency guidelines. It’s unclear
what those instructions will be, but the memo indicates the
feds are taking notice of the situation.

Another issue: If
you “gift” your spouse more than $12,000 a
year -- or leave an estate to him or her that’s
worth more than $2 million -- hefty federal tax
penalties (upward of 45%) will be imposed.

Tags: Business