Personal Finance 

Four Reasons to Get Married

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CakeEarlier this month, Marylanders voted on Question 6 – Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would’ve amended current law to allow gay and lesbian couples to get a civil marriage license. No matter what you say about the religious or ethical or whatever reasons for or against it, the reality is that being married affords you financial and legal protections that should be given all couples willing to take that step.

While there are plenty of non-financial reasons (and plenty of financial reasons not to get married), here are a few financial ones:

Transferring Assets

When you are married, your assets are usually combined. What this also means is that you can transfer assets between people without being concerned about gift taxes and lifetime exclusions. When you die, you won’t have to worry that the estate tax will take part of your estate away before it makes its way to your spouse because it doesn’t apply. You don’t have to worry that your estate will be stuck in limbo while the state sorts things out and decides who gets what based on your will. All of these things are made simpler because, for all practical purposes, you are treated as a single entity.

What happens if you are unmarried and you want to transfer assets? Any amount over $13,000 that you give to someone else is subject to the gift tax.

Government Benefits

If you are married, you can receive Social Security, Medicare, disability, veterans/military, and public assistance benefits as a spouse of someone who is eligible. If you are unmarried, you are no different than a stranger and are entitled to nothing.

Legal & Medical Decisions

If your spouse is incapacitated or can’t express his or her wishes, you can make medical decisions on his or her behalf if you are married. If you are unmarried, you may not even be able to visit your partner based on the rules of the hospital because technically you aren’t a member of the family!

Outside of medical decisions, there are a litany of legal decisions you can make on behalf of your spouse if you are married that you obviously can’t if you are unmarried. This, of course, makes sense from a practice perspective since unmarried couples are as good as strangers.


Last, but not least, taxes are a big factor as well. Even if a couple is legally married in the state they live in, the federal government won’t recognize it and so the couple can’t file taxes as Married Filing Jointly. They are simply two single filers. This creates an interesting predicament because there is a bit of a marriage penalty when it comes to taxes, when both spouses are relatively higher earners. The married filing jointly tax brackets are not double single filer tax brackets.

These are just four money reasons why it’s a good idea to get married, which you can tack onto the million other reasons. 🙂

(Photo: ampphoto)

{ 14 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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14 Responses to “Four Reasons to Get Married”

  1. DMoney says:

    It’s FACTS like these that really make me question why anyone would deny ANY couple the right to marry.

    Boggles the mind.

    In other news, I’d love to see a list of financial reasons NOT to get married.

    Y’know, for balance 🙂

    • Eric K says:

      Cost of the wedding
      Cost of the reception
      Cost of the honeymoon
      Cost of the divorce lawyer
      Cost of fire-sale pricing when liquidating assets
      Cost of post traumatic stress disorder counseling

      and to tie it into the main article:
      “because there is a bit of a marriage penalty when it comes to taxes, when both spouses are relatively higher earners”

  2. The taxes reason really depends on how the fiscal cliff ends up getting dealt with. I hope they fix the marriage penalty is.fixed again, but nothing is certain these days.

  3. Lee B says:

    “Even if a couple is legally married in the state they live in, the federal government won’t recognize it and so the couple can’t file taxes as Married Filing Jointly. They are simply two single filers.”
    SAY WHAT? I filed Married Joint for 25 years!!!!
    What are you talking about????

    • Zach says:

      I believe they meant “gay couple”. That state recognition of same-sex marriage does not translate to the federal filing rules.

  4. JoeTaxpayer says:

    Jim – may I add a few points? The $13,000 exemption finally jumps to $14,000 in 2013. When gifting more than this one cap tap into their unified gift credit, in effect taking early credit against their estate ta exemption.

    DMoney – to your first point, there’s also an impact to the children of same sex couples, which follows from their parents not having the same benefits from marries as their friend’s opposite sexed parents. The way things stand, there’s far more attention needing to the financial planning of these couples both to protect each other as well as the children.

  5. Mike says:

    Isn’t the marriage penalty tax a reason NOT to get married?

    • Laura says:

      I hear ya Mike – when I was single I never had to pay anything extra at tax time- matter of fact, I usually got a refund. Since getting married 7 years ago we now owe every year!

    • Ray says:

      Don’t you have the option to file as married but filing separate?

      Seems to me like just increased flexibility.

      • Texas Wahoo says:

        Except the tax brackets for married filing separate are not the same as those for single filers. In most situations, you will owe more filing separately than filing jointly, even if both spouses are high earners. Married filing separately is more for people that are willing to pay more to keep their finances separate.

  6. John says:

    I believe that all couples should be entitled to security by law, whatever the law dictates. But for the same sex couples ,please don’t redefine Marriage. Even if the state does away with the word marriage this would be fine by me as partner for life or whatever and let what has been established as marriage be between a man and a woman.

    • SLS says:

      Marriage has bee redefined hundreds of time over the years, so don’t worry that by allowing same-sex couples to get married that this is a problem in “redefining marriage” as you put it John.

      Marriage used to happen strictly as a way to move women, as property, from one household to another; its been redefined culturally since then and nothing bad happened. If two people of the same gender/ sex want to get married and call it marriage, why let it bother you? Same-sex marriage in no way challenges marriage as an institution of western culture; it just reifies the whole institution of marriage when have more people taking part of it. This, btw, is the main reason why I would never get married myself. I don’t want to uphold the problematic institution in the first place.

  7. SLS says:

    These are, by far, some of the major reasons why most LGBTQ people want to get married (and not all of us queers want to be married!). It is about security – whether medical or financial or legal – not for any other reason.

  8. ace carolla says:

    my 31yo cousin got married last september, and is now filing for divorce because she wasnt the one. duh.

    he’s leaving her $30,000 US dollars. not a bad score for her eh?

    there’s 31K reasons not to get married right there.

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