If Your Marriage Just Became Legal


Congratulations to everyone in the U.S. who became legally married thanks to our recent Supreme Court ruling! If this is you (or if you plan on getting married, regardless of court rulings), do a quick check on these financial issues:

  1. Pay attention to your retirement account contributions this year. The amount you can put into a tax-deferred account often depends on whether you are married and what your spouse is earning and/or contributing. Make sure you review your retirement account contributions now, rather than at the rush at the end of the year!
  2. Contact your lender if you have federal student loans and are on an Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan; if your spouse is also paying student loans, your IBR payments should decrease.
  3. Revise (or create) your will and related documents to show your new status;
  4. Check to see who the beneficiaries are on your life insurance policies;
  5. Check on the beneficiaries listed on your retirement accounts;
  6. Get ready for changes in your income taxes—we tax married couples more than we do two single people living together;
  7. Feel free to give more—gift tax rules allow you to give to your spouse tax-free. And each spouse gets to use the gift tax exclusion on gifts you are jointly giving to someone else (that means you and your spouse can give $28,000 tax-free this year).
  8. Revise those estate plans (if you had any to begin with). The Federal Estate tax for 2015 begins on estates valued at $5.43 million, so in all likelihood, this was not causing you any stress to begin with, but if it was, your new marital status may be reason to change everything (go talk to your Tax & Estates Attorney).

And if you had filed a marriage certificate that was not honored because of your same-sex status, you might be able to revise previous tax returns. Check with your accountant.