Getting Married

We are often asked in our counseling practice to help couples who have been together for a long time to evaluate the legal and tax consequences of marriage in the context of doing life and estate planning. We begin these conversations with a hearty acknowledgment that there are (or at least can be) other very important considerations that factor into this major life decision, such as love and commitment, family, values, etc..


What follows is a framework for discussions we encourage every couple to have with their advisors about whether (from a legal and tax perspective) it makes sense to get married ?

Consider the asset situation now and in the future.  Who owns what?  How is it titled?  Does anyone expect to inherit something and is that intended to be ‘community’ property or kept separate?

Consider the goals and objectives?  Is there an intent to ‘equalize’ partners from a financial point of view?  What, if any, gifts have been made?  Has the home been (or will it be) re-titled?  Who paid for it?

1. Does either party hold life insurance for the benefit of the other?

2. Are children involved?  Children from a prior marriage?

3. Prior spouses?  Have prior marriages been properly (legally) dissolved?

4. If an estate tax may become due upon passing, is it important for the surviving spouse not to  have to liquidate assets to pay the tax ?

5. How do the parties feel about being able to bring lawsuits in the event of a wrongful death accident?

6. What if it doesn’t work out: where might they live?  Will the state they reside in recognize the marriage for purposes of divorce?

7. Is a Pre-Nuptial (or Post-Nuptial) agreement advisable to segregate assets?

8. Who do you want to be deciding things and inheriting things?

These are just some of the questions that we think are important to discuss with couples when considering, at least from a legal and tax perspective, whether it makes sense to get married.  Oftentimes, the state estate tax exposure can be compelling enough.  For example, in Massachusetts, for for many couples, it can save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Each situation is different – so – please consult a competent advisor to review your personal financial situation and even model out scenarios for the estate tax cost ‘with’ and ‘without’ marriage – it can make a big difference!

Whether or not a couple decides to get married, there are still issues worthy of discussion, such as who pays for what and what would each party’s respective rights and responsibilities be in the event the relationship ends.  We often advise couples on Cohabitation Agreements and Joint Ownership Agreements.

If we can help you with any legal aspects of your marriage, please do not hesitate to contact us at (617) 716-0300 or

The premiere law firm of Squillace and Associates serves the gay and lesbian community in the Boston Massachusetts area including Allston, Brighton, Back Bay, Bay Village, Beacon Hill, East Boston, Roxbury, South End, Dorchester, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, West Roxbury, Mattapan, and Charlestown and all of the Boston Metro areas including Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Chelsea, Medford, Everett, Watertown; South Shore areas like Quincy, Braintree, Milton, Hingham, and Cape Cod: Metrowest areas like Lexington, Concord, Wayland; and North Shore areas like Melrose, Stoneham, Reading, Andover.

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