Once Same Sex Marriages Become Legal In Texas, Then What?
Post by: Lesley Hempfling
It seems inevitable that same-sex marriage will become legal in Texas at some point. Just today, a District Court Judge in Travis County, Texas issued an order allowing a same-sex couple to marry. This historic event came only a day after Probate Judge Guy Herman ruled the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. So, what do you do once you have the right to legally marry your same-sex partner in Texas? Below are a few items that should be on your short list.
- Once you marry in Texas, the presumption is that everything owned during the marriage is community property. So, just like opposite sex couples, you need to consider whether a prenuptial agreement is necessary before (or after) you say your "I dos!"
- Does one of you have significant separate property?
- Does one of you have a job that is high risk?
- Does one of you have more debt than the other?
- Update your estate plan to include provisions that are only available to married couples.
- Your estate tax exemption just went up from $5.43 million to $10.86 million collectively!
- You now can use "portability" to transfer your deceased spouse's unused estate tax exemption to your "bucket" with the right planning.
- You may need a Bypass Trust.
- The unlimited Marital Deduction is now available to you.
- Do you own everything jointly with right of survivorship? You may need to retitle certain assets depending on your estate planning goals (e.g. if you are directing funds to a testamentary trust set up for your spouse and everything is held with right of survivorship, then there will be no assets to fund the trust).
- Do you have children together? You will need to prepare or update your Guardianship documents after the non-biological spouse has completed his/her adoption of the children.
- Make sure your non-probate assets (e.g. IRAs, 401Ks, etc.) conform to your new status. Some plans require you name your spouse as a beneficiary or have their consent to name someone else.
- Talk to your CPA and determine if filing jointly is a better option for you now that you are married.
Please note this list is not intended to be exhaustive on any of the topics that it discusses.