A lot of people don’t necessarily consider the legal side benefits marriage grants to them when they are considering getting married. Oftentimes, they simply want to get married. However, it is true that there are some legal and financial positives that come along with changing your status to “Married.” Read on for details on these benefits.

Types of Benefits

Tax Benefits: There are multiple tax benefits granted to married partners. Some occur as soon as your married. For example, a married couple can take an unlimited marital tax deduction. This basically means that the spouses can transfer property between themselves as much as they like without owing a tax penalty. Normally, when individuals transfer property in this way, they are gifts subject to a gift tax. Married couples can also file their taxes jointly. While this does not financially benefit every couple, it does benefit many, and those couples will likely receive more in their tax refund.

The tax deduction also applies in cases where one spouse dies. This allows the surviving spouse to inherit the spouse’s estate free of estate tax. Normally, when someone dies, their inheritors must pay the estate tax on the property they inherit, but spouses are free of this rule. Spouses can also create life trusts that are only available to married partners.

Government Benefits: There are numerous types of government benefits which may be received by a spouse of the person they actually accrued to. For instance, if either of the spouses is entitled to social security benefits, their spouse can apply for and receive that benefit. This also applies to benefits such as Medicare, and government disability checks. Keep in mind that social security and Medicare do not begin to pay out until your mid-sixties. However, this benefit can be quite useful as you and your partner age. If the partner who is entitled to benefits dies, their surviving spouse may still receive their benefits.

Spouses may also be entitled to certain benefits of their partner that accrued to them because they are a veteran of the United States military. This is particularly true for those that are related to education or medical care benefits.

Health Benefits: Spouses are usually able to get covered by their spouse who has an insurance plan, for medical or dental. A family insurance premium rate is likely available for married couples. 

Additionally, there are legal rights one has as a spouse that unmarried partners don’t have. If one spouse is in the hospital, and has restricted visitation, a spouse will be able to visit more than a non-married partner. The spouse also has the right to make decisions for the hospitalized spouse, should they become incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions about their care.

Employment Benefits: Insurance is often a benefit of employment, so once again, the insured spouse can likely include their non-covered spouse on their health insurance plan. Family leave may be available for taking care of a sick spouse, and bereavement leave may be available if the spouse or one of their close family members die. If the working spouse dies, their surviving spouse may be entitled to benefits such as workers’ compensation and any retirement plan benefits. 

Other Retirement Benefits: The retirement account need not be employment-related in order for a surviving spouse to receive the benefit. An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) of a deceased spouse may be rolled over into the surviving spouse’s IRA.

Family Benefits: It is easier for a married couple to receive an adoption or foster care placement than it is for unmarried partners or for single people. Marriage also entitles spouses to receive certain benefits, potentially, in the case of divorce, such as alimony, and receiving a spousal share of the joint property.

Legal Benefits: If one partner dies in an accident, their surviving spouse may be able to sue on their behalf for a wrongful death claim. Spouses can also claim spousal privilege in a court case, which allows them to refuse to reveal marital conversations that were considered confidential.

Other Benefits: Spouses are entitled to visiting rights with an incarcerated spouse. Spouses have immigration rights, and may apply for residency for their non-citizen spouses. Spouses are often entitled to family discounts, not only with things like health insurance, but for any kind of consumer discount advertised as available to families. Families may also get tuition discounts. Spouses can make arrangements, including burial arrangements for deceased spouses.

Should I Talk to an Attorney About Marriage Benefits?

If you are considering marriage, or are already married, you may want to consider talking to a lawyer about the benefits available. A family law attorney in your area can be helpful when it comes to making wise financial decisions, both for during your marriage, and for planning for your retirement and the handling of your estate. This can give both spouses peace of mind, as one of them will likely be the surviving spouse, at some point, and concerned about their financial welfare.