Marriage affects your finances in many ways, including your ability to build wealth, plan for retirement, plan your estate, and capitalize
on tax and insurance-related benefits. Here are some considerations to keep in mind if you are thinking of getting married or have just
tied the knot.
• Building wealth -- If both you and your spouse are employed, two salaries can be a considerable benefit in building long-term
wealth. For example, if both of you have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans, your joint contributions are double
the individual maximums allowed by each plan (up to $19,000 for 2019, plus an additional $6,000 if you are 50 or older).
Similarly, a working couple may be able to pay a mortgage more easily than a single person can, which may make it possible
for a couple to apply a portion of their combined paychecks for family savings or investments.
• Retirement benefits -- Some (but not all) pensions provide benefits to widows or widowers following a pensioner's death.
When participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, married workers are required to name their spouse as
beneficiary unless the spouse waives this right in writing. Qualifying widows or widowers may collect Social Security benefits up
to a maximum of 50% of the benefit earned by a deceased spouse.
• Estate planning -- Married couples may transfer real estate and personal property to a surviving spouse with no federal gift or
estate tax consequences until the survivor dies. But surviving spouses do not automatically inherit all assets. Couples who
desire to structure their estates in such a way that each spouse is the sole beneficiary of the other need to create wills or other
estate planning documents to ensure that their wishes are realized. In the absence of a will, state laws governing disposition of
an estate take effect. Also, certain types of trusts, such as qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trusts and marital
deduction trusts, are restricted to married couples.
• Tax planning -- When filing federal income taxes, filing jointly typically results in lower tax payments when compared with
• Debt management -- In certain circumstances, creditors may be able to attach marital or community property to satisfy the
debts of one spouse. Couples wishing to guard against this practice may do so with a prenuptial agreement.
The opportunity to go through life with a loving partner may be the greatest benefit of a successful marriage. That said, there are
financial and legal benefits that you may want to explore with your beloved.
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