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I apologize in advance for using an altID, but when I originally signed up for FW, I made the error of selecting a username that gives away my full name, and I don't want to link together my name, current/former addresses (thanks pipl), income, assets, etc. on a public forum. Plus this username was available.

Anyway, I am in a committed relationship where we are considering the option of remaining unmarried. For the record, we are still planning on getting (non-diamond) rings and having a reception/ceremony. It's just that we're also considering not signing any legal paperwork. We live in California.

The primary concerns here are the marriage penalty, how that will change in the future based on significant life changes (from what I've calculated, it only gets worse), and how to deal with any rights/benefits we give up by not getting married. It seems we just might be creeping into AMT territory as well. We're 31 and 28, and I expect our salary increases to outpace increases in the AMT deduction, etc., so AMT may matter even more as time goes on. Anyway, here is a snapshot of our current financial situation:

My income: $115k salary + $15k bonus + $25k stock options/RSU + $3k ESPP = $158k.
My investment income: $5k interest and dividends, also capital gains, but it's hard to predict what/when I sell.
Her income: $129k salary + $1k bonus = $130k.
Our retirement: I max out my 401(k) at $17.5k/year. She contributes 5% to a pension plan automatically. I believe she has some tax-deferred options available, but they're not set up (new job as of a few months ago). I'll go through her paperwork and make sure it's maxed out by the end of the year. (Also just learned about Backdoor ROTH -- will add this in, but I don't think it has any tax/marriage implications.)
Our assets: ~$750k, mostly in stocks or mutual funds, $25k of which is hers. About $150k of the total is in retirement funds.
Our debt: I have $16k of student loan debt @ 3% that I'm paying the minimum on.

We're currently putting aside $6k/month ($3k each) into a joint account as a down payment for a $1M+ home within the next few years. The rest of our finances are separate. We plan to solely rely on "new" money for any joint purchases and to not liquidate any of our existing assets to buy a home, etc. More to the point, if we are in still in the AMT bracket after purchasing a home (mortgage interest might help keep us out for a little while), we will not be able to deduct property tax if married. Additionally, in the future, we're also considering having children (1 or 2), which could mean HoH filing status if we were still legally single.

I want to establish a sort of checklist of things to consider that I may have not thought of already in my own external research and from extracting bits and pieces from various similar threads in the FWF archives. So far, this is what I've come up with for things that matter that we could take care of without immediately getting married:

  • Inheritance: She is my current beneficiary on all of my retirement accounts, as I am on hers. I have filed ToD paperwork for all of my brokerage accounts naming her as the sole beneficiary. I have named her as my sole beneficiary on all stock awards and pretty much anything I could get her name on.

  • SS/Pension Survivor Benefits: Only available if married. My thought here was that we could get married when we are at/near retirement age if we wanted to have access to this. We'd still be uncovered in the case of an early accidental death.

  • Capital gains (if > $250k) exclusion for sale of a home: Currently we do not own a home, but it seems that we could just get married just before selling the house if we found ourselves in this situation, so this doesn't seem to be an issue.

  • Durable PoA (both healthcare and finance) and living will: Needs to be done.

  • HIPAA releases for one another: Needs to be done.

  • Will: Seems redundant since she's already the beneficiary of all of my accounts/assets. But I guess it can't hurt. Allows me to name an executor.


And here's a separate list of items that seem to require marriage to obtain any benefits:
  • Health insurance: Currently, my company pays 100% of my premium, and allows me to add a spouse/dependents for free. She currently pays $100/month (her employer pays the rest), so this $1200/year would alleviate the marriage penalty somewhat.

  • No bereavement leave from our employers with respect to each other's families: I don't see a way around this. Value is 3 days of bereavement pay per occurrence.

  • Tenancy by the Entirety: Not available to unmarried couples. Jointly-held assets could be subject to a lien in the event of a lawsuit where the judgment exceeds insurance/current assets.

  • Lower insurance rates: Essentially trivial because our insurance rates are very low to begin with (currently driving older/used cars, so liability only). While we admire fancy cars, neither of us has the desire to purchase one.


So that's about everything I've pieced together. I'd be really interested in seeing if I missed anything. And if you made it all the way to the end of my post, thanks.

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What a great topic. I'm going to build upon two topics proposed earlier: ask a lawyer, and ask your gays. Here's a tip... (more)

NegligentPerSe (May. 04, 2013 @ 9:21a) |

You definitely need to have these forms where you can get to them in an emergency if one of you is incapacitated. There ... (more)

TravelerMSY (May. 04, 2013 @ 10:00a) |

Thanks for the link, NegligentPerSe. My partner and I are in a legal neverneverland right now. Married legally in MA but... (more)

TravelerMSY (May. 04, 2013 @ 10:02a) |

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Tl; dr. Don't get married.

You both make decent money, get a decent lawyer and a good pre-nup and call it a day.

altid said:    and how to deal with any rights/benefits we give up by not getting married.
altid said:   We're currently putting aside $6k/month ($3k each) into a joint account as a down payment for a $1M+ home within the next few years

Asset Protection - I know this is state dependent so you will have to look into it for CA. But in PA a married couple who jointly owns real estate receives special liability protection on the asset.

Example:

Unmarried - Man and Women joint own property. Man has at fault car accident kills Person X. Person X families sues and wins for over insured amount and umbrella coverage. Judge can force sale of jointly held real estate to settle the judgment.

Married - Jointly held marital assets can't be forced sold when only one of the married couple is sued.

I know it's hard to put a value on asset protection, but it something that should be in the equation when talking about 1mm real estate. Sorry if this is not applicable in CA.

Congrats on being progressive. You can love each other and have a life together without getting the state involved. You have no financial obligation to any other person until you have children with them I think. Obviously your SO wouldn't quit work if/when you have kids, but you'd need to protect her with a will and a bump in life insurance.

kriskos4 said:   Obviously your SO wouldn't quit work if/when you have kids...Don't ever take this for granted. No matter how certain you/she are BEFORE kids are born, a lot of people change their mind.

Also, don't rule out the chance that she's going to hear wedding bells at some point either.


Other than that, I'd be sure to get some good advice on rights of spouse vs non-spouse with respect to medical care and estate planning (especially IRA/retirement accounts). There are specific rights and protections for spouses in retirement accounts, homestead, social security, etc. Make sure you get good advice in these areas.

I'm curious what it is you have against marriage? Commitment? You sound like you want to live your lives together, so I don't get it, unless you deep down don't have the commitment and want an out. However, living your lives together as you are doing will still result in a messy divorce, if it comes to that. You'll be living like you're married, raising kids like you're married, is it just thumbing your nose at the government? That doesn't make sense either, because as you say, the government gives all kinds of breaks and advantages to those who are married. I just don't get what people have against marriage. Can someone explain it to me please?

It sounds like they object to the higher effective taxes for a married couple with similar high incomes. That's all I read.

OP, your checklist covers most of the points I thought of - I'd add getting HIPAA releases for each other. And talk to your gay friends about it, they've probably had to deal with it all already.

SlimTim said:   It sounds like they object to the higher effective taxes for a married couple with similar high incomes. That's all I read.

OP, your checklist covers most of the points I thought of - I'd add getting HIPAA releases for each other. And talk to your gay friends about it, they've probably had to deal with it all already.


It sounds like OP wants a pre-nup without a pre-nup.

I've gone through a similar exercise for my gf and I, making the assumption that each make $100k/year. Here are some additional considerations/numbers:

Tax brackets. Here are the tax brackets for single vs. married:
Rate	Single Filers	        Married Joint Filers	Head of Household Filers
10%	$0 to $8,925	        $0 to $17,850	        $0 to $12,750
15%	$8,925 to $36,250	$17,850 to $72,500	$12,750 to $48,600
25%	$36,250 to $87,850	$72,500 to $146,400	$48,600 to $125,450
28%	$87,850 to $183,250	$146,400 to $223,050	$125,450 to $203,150
33%	$183,250 to $398,350	$223,050 to $398,350	$203,150 to $398,350
35%	$398,350 to $400,000	$398,350 to $450,000	$398,350 to $425,000
39.6%	$400,000 and up	        $450,000 and up	        $425,000 and up

Starting at the 28% bracked, it is more advantageous to be single.

Roth IRA contribution. For married couples, the phaseout begins at $178,000. For individuals it is $112,000. Not really applicable in your situation, but in my example of $100k each, it is.

AMT Exemption. For a single person or head of household, the exemption is $50,600 for 2012. For married couples, it is $78,750.

Future taxes. Our politicians' solution to all of the country's problems has been to tax the "rich". Their definition of rich: single people making over $200,000 and married couples making over $250,000. Keep in mind that neither of these numbers are indexed, so more and more people will be hit by these new taxes if they're ever enacted.

Phaseout on itemized deductions. The phaseout for single earners is at $250,000, for married couples it is $300,000.

Kids. If you decide to ever have kids, one person can file as head of house-hold, the other file as single (even more advantageous than two people filing as single).

quaters said:   Asset Protection - I know this is state dependent so you will have to look into it for CA. But in PA a married couple who jointly owns real estate receives special liability protection on the asset.Thanks, I hadn't heard of this before. Looks like it is called "Tenancy by the Entirety," and so far I haven't found a way to achieve this that doesn't require marriage. It's hard to put an exact value on this, but it's something to consider -- will add it to the list in the OP.

kriskos4 said:   Obviously your SO wouldn't quit work if/when you have kids, but you'd need to protect her with a will and a bump in life insurance.Not sure why you got the red, maybe for this part I quoted? In any case, your assumption was correct as far as our current plans are concerned (as a poster further down remarks, we could change our minds). Neither of us currently plan to quit working if/when we have kids. (And if we did, and if it turned out to be financially beneficial to get married, we could do that.)

SlimTim said:   OP, your checklist covers most of the points I thought of - I'd add getting HIPAA releases for each other. And talk to your gay friends about it, they've probably had to deal with it all already.Thanks, added HIPAA to the list.

RailroadTrack said:   You both make decent money, get a decent lawyer and a good pre-nup and call it a day.
stanolshefski said:   It sounds like OP wants a pre-nup without a pre-nup.
SlimTim has it right; I'm mostly concerned with paying higher taxes due to being married. I'm not sure where the prenup idea came from, but I'm not asking about that here. (As an aside, I generally agree with the default way that California divides assets in the event of divorce for couples without a prenup.)

altid said:   RailroadTrack said:   You both make decent money, get a decent lawyer and a good pre-nup and call it a day.
stanolshefski said:   It sounds like OP wants a pre-nup without a pre-nup.
SlimTim has it right; I'm mostly concerned with paying higher taxes due to being married. I'm not sure where the prenup idea came from, but I'm not asking about that here. (As an aside, I don't have any strong objections to the default way that California divides assets in the event of divorce for couples without a prenup.)
so your SO is gonna let you pull the "i don't want to pay higher taxes" for years on end?

SO is going to tell the family and friends this as being the reason you don't wanna get married? interesting

rmhop said:   altid said:   RailroadTrack said:   You both make decent money, get a decent lawyer and a good pre-nup and call it a day.
stanolshefski said:   It sounds like OP wants a pre-nup without a pre-nup.
SlimTim has it right; I'm mostly concerned with paying higher taxes due to being married. I'm not sure where the prenup idea came from, but I'm not asking about that here. (As an aside, I don't have any strong objections to the default way that California divides assets in the event of divorce for couples without a prenup.)
so your SO is gonna let you pull the "i don't want to pay higher taxes" for years on end?

SO is going to tell the family and friends this as being the reason you don't wanna get married? interesting


And his SO is going to allow him to potentially leave her and their child(ren) unprotected should OP die (since he can write a will directly his money elsewhere)?

quit your job sugar momma

Regarding her $1200 health insurance payment: I don't know much about it, so this might not apply at all, or the rules might be different now, but I remember a couple of years ago on FW (I am pretty sure it was FW) where it was mentioned that some guys were able to add their long-term girlfriends on their company health insurance plan by using the rule that "life partners" (or whatever the term was) were eligible (of course this coverage was intended for partners of gay people, but some fellows said that their companies accepted any life partner arrangement, heterosexual or homosexual).

As a commenter suggested above, maybe you could look into how gay partners have dealt with these issues (by looking on internet or checking with acquaintances) and what they have flagged as important to take care of/be aware of. You could also consult with a lawyer who handles this kind of thing to make sure you have everything covered.

nasheedb said:   

Kids. If you decide to ever have kids, one person can file as head of house-hold, the other file as single (even more advantageous than two people filing as single).


My situation: 1 kid, I'm 28% bracket, baby mama is in the 25% bracket. By filing as HoH and claiming dependency of child, I knocked my AGI down into the 25% bracket. I haven't done the math recently but as of a few years ago, it did not make for us $ense for us to get married. Plus, there's the needless cost of the wedding.

Nevermind. (The mods were holding my comment, so I reworded it, but no need for it now, so I've deleted this 2nd one.)

Our assets: ~$750k, mostly in stocks or mutual funds, $25k of which is hers. About $150k of the total is in retirement funds



Is this missing a zero on her assets, or do you have far more assets than she does?

I don't have anything specific to add, other than that the resources for same-sex couples may be helpful to you. You can recreate 90% of the benefits of marriage by contract, but there are a lot of little and not so little things that you can't. A lawyer that specializes in contracts for LGBT couples will have the knowledge of what works in your state.

It does seem fair though. If you could recreate the benefits of marriage 100% without any of the obligations of marriage, nobody would ever get married except religious types.

jerhot said:   I'm curious what it is you have against marriage? Commitment? You sound like you want to live your lives together, so I don't get it, unless you deep down don't have the commitment and want an out. However, living your lives together as you are doing will still result in a messy divorce, if it comes to that. You'll be living like you're married, raising kids like you're married, is it just thumbing your nose at the government? That doesn't make sense either, because as you say, the government gives all kinds of breaks and advantages to those who are married. I just don't get what people have against marriage. Can someone explain it to me please?Just a note before my reply, but it's clear we have differing opinions on this. I don't think we should attempt to change each other's minds, but here is my thinking, since you were wondering:

Financially/legally, the government doesn't give that many exclusive advantages to couples that can't be acquired by an unmarried couple. (The main purpose of this post is to make sure I didn't forget something and that this statement is actually true.) I've calculated our marriage penalty, with conservative numbers, to be on the order of a couple thousand to several thousands of dollars per year. Being aggressive about estimating salary increases and investment income would push the upper limit higher. I estimate that, over our lifetimes, the total amount will be in the six-figure range, in today's dollars. For many marital benefits (I've noted some exceptions in the OP), being married only saves you some extra paperwork. The benefits of those exceptions + the hassle of the paperwork so far don't seem worth x hundred thousand dollars to me.

Emotionally, the arguments I often hear for getting married today almost always involve mistrust on some level (see below). Seeing so many people view marriage like this has really turned me off on the idea. People treat literal marriage as some sort of end goal in life -- to the point that being in a happy and healthy relationship takes a back seat to just being married to somebody. I see value in our bond in the way that we choose to share our lives, our experiences, and our future together, and I don't see how filing a piece of paper with the government helps us to accomplish this. For those that are married and see it as the only way to be, I wonder, if we were to take away that piece of paper, would they stop loving each other? Would they stop being committed? Would they dissolve their relationship? I doubt it, and I sincerely hope not.

Ultimately, it's not so much that I am against marriage, but rather that I consider it a neutral, non-event as far as the strength of our relationship is concerned. And as such, I don't any reason to pay so much money for it. On the flip side, if marriage resulted in a net financial gain, then I would choose to get married instead and see no reason not to do it.

stanolshefski said:   And his SO is going to allow him to potentially leave her and their child(ren) unprotected should OP die (since he can write a will directly his money elsewhere)?It sounds like you're saying that if you're in a relationship with someone whom you don't completely trust to not have a blatant disregard for your own well being (and that of any potential children), you should marry them.

NantucketSunrise said:   Regarding her $1200 health insurance payment: I don't know much about it, so this might not apply at all, or the rules might be different now, but I remember a couple of years ago on FW (I am pretty sure it was FW) where it was mentioned that some guys were able to add their long-term girlfriends on their company health insurance plan by using the rule that "life partners" (or whatever the term was) were eligible (of course this coverage was intended for partners of gay people, but some fellows said that their companies accepted any life partner arrangement, heterosexual or homosexual).

As a commenter suggested above, maybe you could look into how gay partners have dealt with these issues (by looking on internet or checking with acquaintances) and what they have flagged as important to take care of/be aware of. You could also consult with a lawyer who handles this kind of thing to make sure you have everything covered.
I actually checked this with my company -- both in our published Benefits guidelines as well as by asking someone who works in the Benefits department. According to both, only homosexual couple are allowed do to this. Their logic is, essentially, "If you're heterosexual, then you can get married." California doesn't allow heterosexual couples under the age of 62 to register as domestic partners, so that may have something to do with it.

altid said:   I apologize in advance for using an altID, but when I originally signed up for FW, I made the error of selecting a username that gives away my full name, and I don't want to link together my name, current/former addresses (thanks pipl), income, assets, etc. on a public forum. Plus this username was available.
The username being available really surprises me. The quality here really has gone downhill.

Not relevant, but you should be able to contact the mods and get your username changed, if you don't want to keep using this one .

Krazen1211 said:   Is this missing a zero on her assets, or do you have far more assets than she does?Not a typo. I have more. Her current salary is new -- she previously made somewhere between $65-72k before taxes/retirement. We moved this year for her new job. I had my current employer transfer me to another location (generally not allowed, but they made an exception), so I still have my old job, and now she makes nearly double what she used to. I have always saved a lot, but the $3k/month we each put into that joint account I mentioned is new and only started relatively recently. We actually save more than $3k each, but the excess goes into our individual accounts.

Glitch99 said:   The username being available really surprises me. The quality here really has gone downhill.

Not relevant, but you should be able to contact the mods and get your username changed, if you don't want to keep using this one .
I was pondering posting on my main account and just leaving out some details, but I felt I would get better responses by being as forthcoming as possible. And then, when I found out this username was available, it just felt like kismet.

Now I sort of like it.

altid said:   stanolshefski said:   And his SO is going to allow him to potentially leave her and their child(ren) unprotected should OP die (since he can write a will directly his money elsewhere)?It sounds like you're saying that if you're in a relationship with someone whom you don't completely trust to not have a blatant disregard for your own well being (and that of any potential children), you should marry them.

A tremendous, additional amount of trust comes from being married. Good luck convincing your spouse/girlfriend/fiance/friend/wife/partner.

ETA: what are you going to call each other?

I work for a CPA firm and we have at least one or two clients every year who ask for projections on whether or not they would save money by getting a divorce. Often it turns out they will, but I've never seen anyone follow through. Other factors must trump the few thousand a year they could save in taxes.

I bought this book after I brokeup with a girlfriend that I bought real-estate with.
Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples

I wish I had bought it before I did that stupid, stupid, stupid thing.

I posted this exact same question a few years back.

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1149704/

Fast forward a few years and we are still unmarried on paper. Our salaries have increased to around your same numbers. Last year we were able to contribute to my "wife's" Roth IRA (probably for the last time at the rate her salary has increased). Of course, this wouldn't have been possible if we married and filed jointly.

This year we have a kid on the way so I'm again thinking about this topic. I have an appointment with my CPA so I'll have another discussion with him on it.

Anyway, I'm glad to see someone else on FWF thinking the same way as me (and has a partner who does as well!).


stanolshefski said:   A tremendous, additional amount of trust comes from being married. Good luck convincing your spouse/girlfriend/fiance/friend/wife/partner.
ETA: what are you going to call each other?
A woman who can get married, should get married. It's foolish of a woman to agree to live like a wife, without being honored with the title/position of wife. Her beauty fades and will soon drop off the cliff. She needs to lock in a husband while the flower of her youth is blooming in full. Once she loses it, her unmarried lover will dump her faster than a rotten fish. A husband, on the other hand, will give his wife credit for taking care of him and the family all these years, and is more likely therefore to accept an older, no-longer-attractive wife.

stanolshefski said:   A tremendous, additional amount of trust comes from being married. Good luck convincing your spouse/girlfriend/fiance/friend/wife/partner.

ETA: what are you going to call each other?
As I see it, a tremendous amount of trust is only there to be gained if it is missing in the first place.

We might still say husband/wife, but then again, we might not. We're not really sure yet.

stuckinlimbo said:   I posted this exact same question a few years back.

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1149704/

Fast forward a few years and we are still unmarried on paper. Our salaries have increased to around your same numbers. Last year we were able to contribute to my "wife's" Roth IRA (probably for the last time at the rate her salary has increased). Of course, this wouldn't have been possible if we married and filed jointly.

This year we have a kid on the way so I'm again thinking about this topic. I have an appointment with my CPA so I'll have another discussion with him on it.

Anyway, I'm glad to see someone else on FWF thinking the same way as me (and has a partner who does as well!).
Hello! I appreciate the update. I saw your thread when I was searching the archives -- I considered reaching out and PMing some of the thread starters to see how things were going several years later, but I never got around to it.

When I played around with a tax calculator, I found the net benefit of being unmarried with one child to be about $2k due to one person filing as HoH with two earners at various incomes along the 28% bracket. Might be different for you, but if I did my numbers correctly, it should be a reasonable ballpark estimate. Have you considered backdoor Roth contributions now that your income is higher?

altid said:   
Hello! I appreciate the update. I saw your thread when I was searching the archives -- I considered reaching out and PMing some of the thread starters to see how things were going several years later, but I never got around to it.

When I played around with a tax calculator, I found the net benefit of being unmarried with one child to be about $2k due to one person filing as HoH with two earners at various incomes along the 28% bracket. Might be different for you, but if I did my numbers correctly, it should be a reasonable ballpark estimate. Have you considered backdoor Roth contributions now that your income is higher?


Haven't yet considered the backdoor Roth, but will start thinking about it this year. We both contribute 17.5k to our 401K so our retirement accounts are growing at a healthy pace. One other useful benefit with staying unmarried is that we can shift the mortgage interest + property tax deduction on the primary residence to the person who would benefit the most.

This is very similar to my situation a few years ago (similar income/networth/goals/age). I'm a little further along down this same path now (Have a child, House), but essentially very similar. Be prepared to deal with pressure from friends/family.

I also live in CA, and have a few comments regarding your current strategy. First off, Why are you not getting married? You mention marriage penalty, and you also go into detail about keeping all your assets separate. Those two items are separate and mutually exclusive. You can commingle most of your assets, and still avoid the marriage penalty. Although it sounds like you are trying to not commingle so you can get a "clean break" (or limit lawsuit liability of the partner) if it comes to that. I just want to be clear on what your reason for not getting married is? To allow for a "clean break", limit lawsuit liability or to limit your tax liability? This is very important in deciding how you should plan your life together in terms of finances. Note, that even if you are married, you can have separate property (just keep VERY good records) and DO NOT commingle your funds. (Pre-nup is also an option)

I won't go into what dollar amount house you should be buying, and will go purely on your stated goal of $million+. Given you are in CA, and interest rates are still at historical lows, and real estate is still well priced, I would not recommend waiting 3+ years for you to jointly raise the necessary capital (20-25%) to buy a $Million+ house. This is of course assuming the only reason you don't buy now is because you haven't raised enough in your "Joint account". I don't know the exact area of where you live, but most areas with $million+ homes are appreciating very quickly currently. FWIW, I'm very conservative when it comes to real estate, and do not think a house is a good investment for everyone, however if you plan to have a life/family with this person, it might be in your best interest to not wait for the 3+ years just to have a 50/50 split. If the 50/50 split is your only concern, you can always take title as Tenants in Common and say the house is 90% yours. Or have her pay you back the down payment amount over a few years. (You can probably do this via a promissory note secured by the property if you want it to be official). This is why it's important to know if you are not getting married to keep assets separate, or to save on taxes.

I'm not an expert in estate planning, but a few things to consider: Since you don't get federal/pension survivor benefits of your partner, it's important to live below your means since if something does happen to one of you, you don't get the same privileges as married couples both in terms of survivor benefits, but also in terms of tax privileges of your assets when they are transferred to your living partner. Given your current net worth, and potential growth you should keep close track of what's going on with estate tax changes.

Estate planning should be fairly simple now, but in a few years (especially if you decide to have children/buy house) this can become more complicated and much more important. With children you can be much more creative in your estate planning. (i.e. if you take title in severalty or TIC, you can pass the property to your child (in CA Prop-58 & 193) without a step-up adjustment in tax basis (upto $1million)).

I can go on for quite a bit regarding strategies/benefits/drawbacks being unmarried with children/property, but since that's not where you are currently in life, I will save that for another thread.

One thing to note, when you do have children, claiming HOH may not be as beneficial as it seems. Since CA has high income taxes and a $million house will have high property taxes (and neither one of those are deductible under AMT), and AMT does NOT have an HOH classification, once you hit AMT, HOH will give you very minimal benefit.

I have some more thoughts/suggestions regarding your current situation, but would like to know the reason you are not getting married in order to focus more toward your goals.

altid said:   jerhot said:   I'm curious what it is you have against marriage? Commitment? You sound like you want to live your lives together, so I don't get it, unless you deep down don't have the commitment and want an out. However, living your lives together as you are doing will still result in a messy divorce, if it comes to that. You'll be living like you're married, raising kids like you're married, is it just thumbing your nose at the government? That doesn't make sense either, because as you say, the government gives all kinds of breaks and advantages to those who are married. I just don't get what people have against marriage. Can someone explain it to me please?Just a note before my reply, but it's clear we have differing opinions on this. I don't think we should attempt to change each other's minds, but here is my thinking, since you were wondering:

Financially/legally, the government doesn't give that many exclusive advantages to couples that can't be acquired by an unmarried couple. (The main purpose of this post is to make sure I didn't forget something and that this statement is actually true.) I've calculated our marriage penalty, with conservative numbers, to be on the order of a couple thousand to several thousands of dollars per year. Being aggressive about estimating salary increases and investment income would push the upper limit higher. I estimate that, over our lifetimes, the total amount will be in the six-figure range, in today's dollars. For many marital benefits (I've noted some exceptions in the OP), being married only saves you some extra paperwork. The benefits of those exceptions + the hassle of the paperwork so far don't seem worth x hundred thousand dollars to me.

Emotionally, the arguments I often hear for getting married today almost always involve mistrust on some level (see below). Seeing so many people view marriage like this has really turned me off on the idea. People treat literal marriage as some sort of end goal in life -- to the point that being in a happy and healthy relationship takes a back seat to just being married to somebody. I see value in our bond in the way that we choose to share our lives, our experiences, and our future together, and I don't see how filing a piece of paper with the government helps us to accomplish this. For those that are married and see it as the only way to be, I wonder, if we were to take away that piece of paper, would they stop loving each other? Would they stop being committed? Would they dissolve their relationship? I doubt it, and I sincerely hope not.

Ultimately, it's not so much that I am against marriage, but rather that I consider it a neutral, non-event as far as the strength of our relationship is concerned. And as such, I don't any reason to pay so much money for it. On the flip side, if marriage resulted in a net financial gain, then I would choose to get married instead and see no reason not to do it.

stanolshefski said:   And his SO is going to allow him to potentially leave her and their child(ren) unprotected should OP die (since he can write a will directly his money elsewhere)?It sounds like you're saying that if you're in a relationship with someone whom you don't completely trust to not have a blatant disregard for your own well being (and that of any potential children), you should marry them.

It doesn't appear that you have considered the possibility/probability that you might fall out of love sometime in the future. Life is unpredictable.

Re: HelloMyWorld

The main reason is the marriage penalty. I brought up how we handle our assets because I wanted to mention the property tax part of the tax issue, which required bringing up the home and its potential value, which then made me want to disclose assets and our rate of savings so that there wouldn't be any lengthy discussions on whether we could afford it If we were married, we would probably still be handling our finances in the same manner. I'm not aware of any real benefits to commingling our existing separate assets, so I haven't researched it much.

We're pretty flexible on the home price (since it's an imaginary house in the future), but I said $1M because I needed some figure of merit to estimate property tax. $1M will get us a 2-3 BR house in the area we are currently renting, and that's about the size we'd want. We could decide to live elsewhere though. The primary reason we want to wait is that since we started dating, we've been moving pretty frequently, so we'd like to settle and stay put in a location for once before we buy a home. The 50-50 split definitely appeals to me, but it won't be a requirement. I think I'll be more serious about looking when we've been here at least 2 years. And if we find something we really really like but don't have enough in the joint account, I can certainly make up the difference.

Assuming I have a proper understanding of how this all works, we might consider getting married when we are older to gain access to SS/pension benefits. At any rate, this still leaves the obvious hole of us being uncovered for the duration of our non-marriage. Estate planning is something I admittedly know very little about.

I played around with some calculations using higher incomes, and you're right that the HoH benefit slowly tapers away and eventually goes to 0 when the incomes are high enough. However, by that point, the marriage penalty just due to the regular tax brackets + AMT was getting into the $10k/year range.

confused200 said:   It doesn't appear that you have considered the possibility/probability that you might fall out of love sometime in the future. Life is unpredictable.So what you're saying is that if you're in a relationship where you could potentially see yourself falling out of love in the future, you should... get married (?)

Same boat. Over 10 years and going.

Marriage is not special. Being married doesn't make one relationship better or more comitted then nonmarried. In fact, in my circle of friends the people married are miserable and the ones with live in GF's are happier.

This is what I did. I bought life insurance enough to pay off every single debt she or I have and named her beney. I have a will listing her as getting it all. I have POA in case of medical, she is listed. She is beney on all accounts.

We have some things co-mingled. She bought a car but I could get better rates so it's in my name. She has the title in a box that I've already signed. If she wants, she can take it to the court house and have it in her name in a second.

I don't care about the tax savings, I just think marriage is silly, outdated and worthless. I don't understand people saying marriage means you are committed when in my state $450 and no fault divorce takes 3 months.

Maybe when we are older and SS factors in we will. But, she has never once in 10 years pushed the issue. She knew the deal going in and made her choice.

Skipping 83 Messages...
Thanks for the link, NegligentPerSe. My partner and I are in a legal neverneverland right now. Married legally in MA but not in the state in which we reside. Hopefully this will get cleared up soon.



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