Financial Advice: Ellen M. DeSarno

What is in a marriage?

What’s in a marriage?

It’s such a beautiful time of year to plan a wedding. I’ll be attending one this June, for two dear friends who have been a couple for 30 years! Without a doubt, the ceremony will be beautiful and magical. But when the rice settles, they will both want to know: what’s different?

Since Section 3 of DOMA was overturned last year, and same-sex marriage is now recognized at the federal level, we financial professionals have had a lot of catching up to do with our clients. Many have not yet considered the financial benefits of marriage, which include:

Health insurance. In most cases, you’ll be entitled to spousal health insurance, and there will be no additional tax on the premiums.

Social Security: When you retire, you’ll have more choices when collecting Social Security retirement benefits. There will be a “spousal benefit” that may be higher than your own. You may also get a higher “survivor benefit” if your spouse predeceases you.

Federal tax filing: You can now file your federal taxes as “married.” Keep in mind, though, there is a marriage tax, but this only applies if you have a household adjusted gross income of around $200,000 or above.

IRAs: You may be eligible to contribute to a “Spousal IRA,” even if you have no income. You can inherit an IRA from a deceased spouse with no taxation or distributions required until you’re 70.

Estate tax: You now have the “Unlimited Marital Deduction,” so you can inherit unlimited amounts from your spouse without owing estate tax.

Gifting: The gifting of assets between spouses is also unlimited and non-reportable, so you can change the title of assets without a gift tax concern.

Consider this my little wedding present to all of you who are getting married this summer, and congratulations!

Please be advised that this article is not intended as legal or tax advice.  Accordingly, any tax information provided in this article is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed, and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.


Ellen M. DeSarno, CFP®, CLU, ChFC is a registered representative who offers securities through AXA Advisors, LLC (212-314-4600), member FINRA/SIPC and an agent (CA Insurance Lic. #: 0H44952) who offers annuities and insurance through AXA Network, LLC, (AXA Network Insurance Agency of California, LLC; AXA Network Insurance Agency of Utah, LLC).  AXA Advisors and its affiliates and associates do not offer tax, accounting, legal counsel or any related advice or services. This article is intended for general information only, and AXA Advisors and its associates offer no guarantee as to its accuracy or timeliness. You should consult with qualified and appropriately tax professional and legal counsel regarding your needs, questions and particular circumstances.  AGE-94941(06/14)(exp.06/16)

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