Now that it’s legal, there are estate and legacy planning situations to be considered.
When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of state recognition for same sex marriages, it established the fact that, under the law, a spouse is a spouse, no matter the gender of the individuals.
That means many of the legal rights which once were only available to opposite-sex married partners are now available to same-sex married partners. Most people immediately think of the advantages regarding the inheriting of financial and personal assets, such as the unlimited marital deduction for estate tax purposes or being able to roll over retirement account assets of a deceased spouse without a minimum or lump sum distribution.
But all the changes may not be simple or obvious. For example:
· What about children in the marriage? If a child is born to one spouse, the relatives of that spouse could seek custody if the parent dies and the surviving spouse had not legally adopted the child.
· What about property ownership? It might make sense to change a joint ownership to a tenancy by the entirety (TBE) to ensure that the property must go to the surviving spouse.
· What about family attitudes? While great strides toward acceptance of same-sex relationships have been made, not all families necessarily approve. This might mean incorporating a “no contest” clause in a Will or trust agreement.
Then, there are questions regarding the digital assets, which for all couples, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, need to be addressed as part of any estate or legacy plan.
In other posts, I’ve talked about a number of the issues surrounding digital assets and accessing them if someone becomes incapacitated or passes away (What Happens to Your Music – and Social Media Assets – When You Die?). There are, however, solutions that can help avoid problems with digital accounts. For example:
· Make a complete inventory of all digital assets. This is perhaps the most critical step that needs to be taken, especially when two people marry. First, it will help identify all accounts and any possible overlaps. Second, it will provide a foundation from which to build a financial and estate plan that by necessity should include digital assets information as well as any “real world” assets.
· Consider consolidating some accounts. Many couples come to the relationship with existing online accounts. Keeping separate accounts may make sense, such as an email used for business. However, in other instances, it might make more sense to consolidate the accounts.
· Share login information with each other. Whether combining or keeping separate accounts, it’s important that someone other than just the account holder have account login information. Simply make a list of the accounts, and the user name and password for each account. Then store the information in a safe place, such as a secure online storage vault or service.
Those are some of my thoughts on personal, financial and digital assets issues. But there is one piece of a marriage that I feel is really important and needs to be shared: the story of the family itself. How did you meet? What are your values? What are the traditions you share?
This part of your legacy is important for you to share and record for the future. It also provides valuable insights for any children you may raise together, and other family members and friends who are part of your life. And all of your legacy and estate planning information can be safely and securely stored in one place, online at LegacyShield.com.
LegacyShield is a complete legacy and estate planning platform that provides the ability to safely and securely create, store, and share all of your most important information today, tomorrow, and anytime you aren’t able.