The last twelve months have been huge for gay rights. New York joined the growing roster of states granting gay marriage; Washington and Maryland have passed legislation allowing gay marriage and are awaiting the results of propositions on November’s ballot. Civil unions passed in Delaware and Hawaii. We saw the end of the military’s ban on openly gay soldiers with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And most recently, President Obama became the first US President to publicly announce support for same sex marriage.
Despite all the progress that has been made, same sex couples still face a confusing tangle of state and federal law when it comes to protecting their rights.
- A heterosexual couple that spends $40 for a marriage license is automatically granted access to the 1,138 rights accorded by the Federal government through marriage.
- Same sex couples have to spend between $1,500 and $10,000 to replicate the most important of these legal and economic benefits.
- Many of these benefits cannot be privately arranged or contracted for
With this in mind, and in celebration of June as LGBT Pride Month, NerdWallet is releasing their Same Sex Couples Planning Tool. This tool helps same sex couples navigate the myriad financial, legal and tax implications of their relationships. It gives them a clear list of documents to obtain, and financial considerations to ask their advisors about.
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure
NerdWallet is also calling attention to the fact that far too often, couples fail to plan ahead, resulting in being denied access to their partners in hospitals, denied standing in probate processes that allocate their estates, or penalized with hefty estate taxes since the Federal government doesn’t recognize them as validly married spouses.
NerdWallet does the homework for you, focusing on the three main areas of concern when same-sex couples get married.
- Financial – How does being married impact your housing, insurance and retirement account decisions?
- Legal – What are the 7 documents every gay couple should have, even if they are legally married in one or more states?
- Tax – What are the tax concerns of being recognized as married in a state, but not at the Federal level?
“Many couples think that a Registered Domestic Partnership or state-sanctioned marriage is sufficient. It isn’t. What happens when you travel to another state? What happens when the Federal government comes asking for their estate taxes? No one should be denied access to his or her sick partner or children. Ensure you have the documents in place and on hand so you don’t waste precious time arguing with unsympathetic medical service providers” says Shiyan Koh, VP of Personal Financial Management at NerdWallet. “Because LGBT law is a relatively new and dynamic field, we believe it is imperative to hire a qualified attorney to draft your documents. It may seem expensive to pay an attorney now, but it will be cheaper than the cost of dealing with litigation required because you didn’t have these protections in place. “
NerdWallet, one of the nation’s premier personal finance sites, is bringing transparency and honesty to financial products online. NerdWallet was rated Money Magazine’s best credit card site in 2010 and has been recommended by experts at Kiplinger’s and the New York Times.
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