Look Before You Leap!

Look Before You Leap!

Should we get married? Our clients ask us that question often. It's truly a personal decision that each couple must make. Whether you're a heterosexual or same-sex couple, marriage has its pros and cons.

Experts estimate that there are 1,138 federal benefits accorded to married couples, including Social Security benefits and health coverage for spouses.

What are some of the other benefits of marriage? Here's a sample: right of inheritance, hospital visits, emergency medical decisions, family medical leave, bereavement leave, allowance for support, dower rights, testimonial privilege, withdrawal rights and protective tax treatment given to a spouse with regard to IRAs and other retirement plans, spousal consortium, wrongful death benefits, right to elect against deceased spouse’s Will, and rights regarding disposition of remains and to be listed on the deceased spouse's death certificate.

Not every couple should wed, however. For example, one spouse may be disqualified for governmental benefits if both spouses' income is taken into consideration. Combining incomes of both spouses could also result in a child of one spouse not qualifying for financial aid for college. Medicaid considerations and the marriage penalty for income tax purposes may be relevant factors for some couples.

In the event you marry and then divorce, marital property and retirement benefits may need to be divided, and spousal support could be ordered.

In the event one spouse dies, the other spouse may have to pay the deceased spouse's separate debt. Ohio law holds that a surviving spouse is responsible for a deceased spouse’s debts for “necessities” (medical or nursing care).

Marriage may be a wonderful option for many couples, a legal confirmation of the love and commitment the couple has for one another. Marriage isn't for everyone, however, and there are couples who could suffer financial consequences if they were to marry. If marriage may be on the horizon for you and your partner, consider the pros and cons of marriage before you tie the knot. You should also consider signing a prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage.

If you have any questions about the implications of marriage and/or prenuptial agreements, please give us a call. We are here to help.

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