Michael Crawford

Top Ten Check List for Same-Sex Couples Marrying in California

Filed By Michael Crawford | July 24, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, gay marriage, gay relationships, gay rights

Getting the boy or girl of your dreams to say yes to your marriage proposal is only the first step in having the fiercest wedding in all the land. And no, I am not thinking about how crucial it is to find the perfect matching outfits or figure out how to convince Madonna to perform at your wedding.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples are denied the federal benefits of marriage even if they are able to legally marry in California and Massachusetts. That means that there are a lot of financial and legal issues that you and your fiance need to think about before saying "I do."

Thank goodness the legal duo of Scott N. Weston and Robert J. Nachshin of Nachshin & Weston have come to the rescue with the Top Ten Check List for Same-Sex Couples Marrying in California.

  1. Seek out the services of a California CPA -- who understands gay marriage and its tax implications. For instance, while same-sex couples receive state-level benefits they do not receive the same considerations on a federal level. That includes the tax benefits, deductions, and even social security benefits granted to heterosexual couples. A well-seasoned and up-to-date CPA will know how to guide a same-sex couple in all his/her tax planning.
  2. Confer with an investment advisor -- even though you may get sound advice from your accountant, it will be of benefit to obtain advice from an investment specialist who can help you plan for retirement, find ways to maximize your investments, and set up IRA's, money-market accounts and other investments to secure you and your mate's future.
  3. Hire a Wills/ Estates planning attorney -- and get your records in order. Though most couples-especially younger couples-do not plan on dealing with an early demise of his/her mate, making sure that such documents as a Physician's Directive, Last Will and Testament, and Living Trust are in place. The last thing any surviving spouse wants to deal with is the turmoil surrounding a catastrophic incident or the death of a spouse when "wishes" have not been clearly defined.
  4. Seek out the advice of a family law attorney -- to inquire if you and your fiance should have a prenuptial agreement in place. You and your soon-to-be spouse may have assets worth protecting: those properties and items that you are bringing with you into the marriage. Though your intentions are good, just as they are with any other couple, the divorce rate in California exceeds 50% and is rising. You may also want to ask your family law attorney how best to handle your marital arrangement in the face of the worst case scenario relative to the November ballot initiative outcome and the California Supreme Court's ultimate decision. Ask how it will impact your marriage.
  5. Ask your insurance company representative(s) -- if all your needs are being met in view of your marital status. Changing the names of beneficiaries, opting for additional coverage, and changing names on policies is critical. This is especially important if either party has children from a prior relationship, or as a couple you plan to have children of your own.
  6. Chat with your banker -- to find out what type of accounts the two of you should set up. Also, ask which accounts should be kept separately and which ones jointly. Should you have a safety deposit box? What should you store in it? Ask. Your banker will have you and your mate's best interests in mind and be able to help you get organized and/or plan.
  7. Change your existing records to reflect both spouses' names -- these might include utility companies, cable services, credit cards and service providers (e.g. your gardener) that you both use. If you have existing accounts, add your spouse. You can also close the account in a sole name and open a new one in both names.
  8. Sign up for some pre-marriage counseling -- it is always a good idea to confer with your spiritual adviser or family therapist before the ceremony to handle any unresolved differences between the two of you. This individual should be someone the two of you can counsel with should any difficulties arise in your marriage.
  9. Read the new amendment and understand its meaning -- because it is important that you are well-versed and well-informed as to your rights, privileges and responsibilities
  10. Join political action groups and other organizations -- dedicated to seeing the defeat of Proposition 8, the fall California ballot initiative that seeks to amend the constitution, invalidating gay marriage. Although California tends to be more accepting of gay and lesbian unions than many other states, there is still sure to be strong support for the proposition.


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This is some good advice, Michael. Thanks for sharing it!

Big thanks to Scott N. Weston and Robert J. Nachshin for putting this together. They did an excellent job!