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Four Reasons to Get Married

Posted By Jim On 11/19/2012 @ 7:16 am In Personal Finance | 14 Comments

Earlier 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 [3] 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.

Taxes

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 [4].

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 [5])


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[3] gift taxes: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/gift-tax.html

[4] married filing jointly tax brackets are not double single filer tax brackets: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/federal-income-irs-tax-brackets.html

[5] ampphoto: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ampphoto/1445231175/sizes/s/

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