Getting advice from a lawyer about whether to get married is a little like getting advice from a poet about whether to buy a dishwasher. He might give you an interesting take on the matter, but when it comes to what’s really important about the decision, he is pretty much useless.
Now that marriage is available to same-sex couples all across America, many are asking whether the legal benefits make getting married a smart move. In many cases, these couples have been together for years or even decades. Factors like compatibility, shared goals, and a sense of commitment are already well established. With those out of the way, shouldn’t legal concerns be the primary factor in deciding whether to tie the knot?
Winston Churchill once said, “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” When the worry is about what will happen when you die, the best thought may be to call an estate-planning attorney. Having a current Last Will and Testament can turn worry into confidence that all will be well when you are gone.
But will it?
It’s tempting to think that a will is all you need in order to be ready for your inevitable departure from this earth. After all, a will says who will inherit your assets, who will settle your estate, and who will look after your children and pets. What else could there be to worry about?
As it happens, plenty.
At this time of year, as W-2s, 1099s, and other tax forms start to arrive in the mail, many same-sex partners are facing a new obligation—filing their income taxes as a married couple. Preparing taxes has never been fun, but the law now makes it easier than ever for gay and lesbian couples who are legally married.
Back when same-sex marriage laws varied from state to state, and the federal government did not recognize gay unions at all, filing as a married couple was an ordeal. Couples who lived in states that recognized their unions might have had to prepare four tax returns—a “phantom” joint federal tax return that was never filed but that had to be prepared in order to determine the couple’s state taxes, a joint state return, and two individual returns with the federal government, which restricted the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples.
What a difference a Supreme Court ruling makes.
As the New Year begins, you’ve talked about losing weight, spending more time with the family, and maybe even learning a new language. There is one more resolution to add to the list, and this one’s attainable—organizing your important household papers.
This can seem like a daunting task. One of the biggest challenges is sorting out what’s important and what’s not. Documents like insurance policies, birth certificates, and wills are obviously essential. But what about old tax returns, bank statements, and credit card receipts?
Research has shown that taming the paper tiger by organizing your household papers is a key to personal happiness. It’s also easier than you might expect. So let’s get started.