In most cases, people get married because they love their partner and want to spend the rest of their lives together. However, being able to spend your life with another person is not be the only benefit to marriage. It provides a couple with additional property rights, the ability to make healthcare decisions for each other, and being able to have flexibility when it comes to filing taxes or estate planning.
- Marital Property Belongs to Both Parties
If you are married when you and your spouse purchase a home, you may have an interest in that property even if it isn’t in your name. The same may be true for money inside of a retirement account that is in your spouse’s name or money inside of a joint bank account even if you didn’t earn the money put into it. When your spouse passes away, some or all of his or her property may pass automatically to you.
- You Are the Legal Parent of Your Children
When a man is married when his wife gives birth, he is automatically the father of the child. This may be true even in cases where the child is not biologically his. Having parental rights by default may be idea for those who want a relationship with that child regardless of whether or not a father has a good relationship with the mother. Having parental rights given to you as soon as the child is born generally means that you don’t have to fight for custody or get a DNA test to prove that the child is yours.
- You Can Be Named on a Healthcare Plan
Most insurance companies allow an individual to name his or her spouse as a party to a health insurance policy. Spouses may also be added to life or car insurance policies as well. Typically, insurance companies don’t allow those who are simply living together to be added to a policy. Therefore, a husband or wife may be better protected against illness or other emergencies, compared to those in a domestic partnership. It should also be noted that without a healthcare power of attorney, domestic partners generally cannot make decisions for those who are mentally incapacitated.
- Estate Planning May Be Easier
When a spouse passes away, it may be possible to pass on his or her federal estate tax exemption. In 2017, the exemption is $5.49 million per person, which means that a couple that combined their exemption would have $10.98 million. Using the portability option may mean the difference between paying a 40 percent estate tax rate or paying nothing at all when the surviving spouse passes away.
State laws generally give favor to a spouse when it comes to who gets assets when a person dies without a will. This may mean that there is no need to go through probate, which could make it harder for a grieving husband or wife to find closure. It may also make it harder for children or other family members to claim that they were denied assets that weren’t intended for them. While many families seek advice from an estate planning lawyer to iron out these issues before they become problems, it’s not always feasible to plan so far in advance.
Talking to an attorney, like a family lawyer Arizona trusts, may be the best way for an individual to learn more about the different benefits of getting married. An attorney may be able to help someone thinking about doing so learn more about prenuptial agreements and other ways to protect money and other property in case of death or divorce.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into family law practice.