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Newly wed same-sex couples forge ahead as pioneers

Same-sex couples have recently been allowed to marry legally in New Jersey, which could create some unexpected issues for them. While their marriages are governed by the same state laws that apply to heterosexual couples, same-sex couples face a unique set of challenges, especially since not all states recognize their unions. In addition, many couples had been together for years before becoming legally married.

There are some suggestions for newly-married same-sex couples that should be considered, particularly since they could face new tax issues and family law challenges that may accompany their new marital status. For example, same-sex couples who filed income tax returns as single persons may want to consider if joint status could be more beneficial. Depending upon the situation, filing a joint return could result in a lower federal income tax.

Newly married same-sex couples may want to review their Social Security benefits in order to determine when to start or defer benefits. In addition, each partner may consider whether to collect on the other spouse's earnings. Spouses who have yet to retire might be able to change their paperwork in order to accommodate their newly married partners. Financial advisers recommend that newly married couples explore every pension option, particularly those that ensure income to the spouse of a worker who has passed away.

Newly married same-sex couples may benefit from learning about new opportunities and options available to them as well as explore ways to organize their financial and legal lives to their optimum benefit. They also might consider drawing up new estate planning documents, such as advance medical directives, wills and powers of attorney.

Source: NJ.com, "Szymanski: Newly married same-sex couples face new legal issues", December 01, 2013

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