Same-sex couples who might be thinking of getting married [following suit with Rep. Barney Frank] should understand something that needs no explaining to Frank, co-author of the Dodd-Frank Bill to regulate the banking industry: that whether marriage will be a financial win depends on a couple’s age, income, assets, debts, where they live, whether they have kids and a raft of still unresolved legal issues.
Representative Barney Frank, of the Dodd-Frank bill to regulate the banking industry, is getting married and that’s as good a reason as any to remember just what difficulties lay ahead of him. I say difficulties because Rep. Frank is also among the most prominent members of the Gay community, so he knows all too well the difficulties and will likely remain a public example.
Forbes and Deborah L. Jacobs were quick to the punch with this piece on Frank and the trials and tribulations of same-sex marriage, and it’s worth a look. The central point, as many readers will know, is that same-sex marriage exists in a rather awkward nexus of laws, one that requires a great deal of work. Where it exists, it exists with all the legal weight of marriage, and that means the various financial duties and liabilities. Of course, even where it does exist, in a very real way it also doesn’t. This is because the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 still rules out same-sex marriage by definition. That statute is what rules the IRS – and it has to enforce those rules – which is especially important in the realm of estate planning, even where there aren’t tremendous assets to guard.
That said, though, there still are legal moves to be made and rules to thoroughly understand. Perhaps with another nod to Frank, the Journal of Financial Planning recently offered a piece on the estate planning issues that affect non-married couples and same-sex marriages alike and it too is worth your consideration.
Reference: Forbes (January 26, 2012) “Tying the Knot Isn’t All Love and Roses: By Marrying, Barney Frank and His Partner Take on Legal Duties, Too” and The Journal of Financial Planning (February, 2012) “Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples: What Financial Planners Need to Know”