Same-Sex Marriage Changes Finances

Same-Sex Marriage Changes Finances

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—When the Supreme Court gave same-sex couples the same rights to federal benefits as heterosexual couples this past week, they were suddenly enabled to reduce or eliminate estate taxes.

In addition, married same-sex couples are now eligible for Social Security spousal benefits equal to half of a worker's retirement benefit as well as in the event of death.

"Same-sex couples can now create estate plans that are designed to reduce estate taxes but there are traps," said Robert F. Klueger, a noted estate planning attorney. "If a couple is married, one same-sex spouse may become liable for the debts of the other."

When asset protection is the paramount objective, a same-sex couple should consider entering into a prenuptial agreement that removes them from community property.

"As in most contexts, planning works better if it is done earlier rather than later," said Klueger.

Author Steve Siebold predicts that within the next ten years, marriage equality will be legal in all 50 states with nearly 20% planning to be wed in the next one to three years, according to a 2013 & The Advocate Same-Sex Wedding Survey by Here Media/MRI.

"That's a huge increase from even a year ago and one that opens up an array of new opportunities," said Stephen Murray, Here Media's senior vice president for marketing and brand strategy.

The report found that 45% of those who took the survey are getting married in a state where civil unions or domestic partnerships are legally recognized while 40% will do so in a state where they are not recognized.