Money Matters For Married Same-Sex Couples

Now that you’re legally wed, have you and your spouse considered the financial implications of your union?


Marriage changes the way couples think about finances. For same-sex couples, the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide had a big impact on the way these couples must now plan for their immediate and long-term finances.  More than ever, same-sex couples must understand the financial implications of marriage. In some ways, marriage makes things easier because financially, everything across the board is the same for all married couples. In other ways, it makes it more complicated because marriage comes with its own set of short- and long-term financial implications.

Studies show that the majority of couples think marriage1:

  • Makes them feel better off financially(70%)
  • Changes how they plan for their future (73%), especially their financial future (68%)
  • Is seen as a significant financial decision (81%)
  • Comes with important financial implications that should be considered prior (89%)

However, there is a disconnect between the idea of marriage and finances and what is actually being done around discussing and planning for it. In addition, same-sex couples now have the burden of considering the financial implications of marriage, which was not an issue prior to marriage equality.  A financial advisor can be helpful in helping them deal with the positive and negative tax implications of marriage, among the many other legal implications of being married versus living together regarding money and planning.

Surprisingly, the majority of couples do not understand1:

  • Financial implications of marriage (68%)
  • Federal and state laws that apply to marriage equality in their state (71%)
  • How marriage affects access and rights to workplace pension benefits (75%)
  • How marriage affects rights to inherit money from a spouse (72%)

Before getting married, it is important that couples learn whether marriage would be financially beneficial for them and get the information they need to make an informed financial decision about whether or not to marry. Most importantly, the majority of couples (75% or three out of four) never discuss with their partners, prior to marriage, whether marriage would be a good financial decision or not—and that seems like an easy thing to change. Some of the topics which should be on the table for discussion include whether to merge all of their accounts and assets, their personal feelings and views about money, personal debts and how marriage brings joint obligations, what they want to save for and invest in, how much each partner can, will and wants to earn, and how their mutual risk tolerance with savings and investments looks.

Same-sex couples have many other questions that should also be answered with regard to marriage that will affect their financial future as a married couple. In addition to the topics noted above, several items that should be on their radar and discussed with a financial advisor include the future affects on their finances of becoming parents, cohabitating, social security and retirement, estate planning, and spousal benefits. A professional advisor can help couples create a financial-planning checklist and do a little planning up front that can go a long way and contribute positively to the couple’s long-term financial health. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation.

About the author:

Cynthia L. Hearing, JD, CLU®, ChFC®, CLTC, CAP® is a Senior Consultant, Business Resource Center for Advanced Markets , The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY 10004

1Wells Fargo Survey by Versta Research (2015)

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