Family & Relationships

What Are Your Legal Rights (and Benefits) Once You’re Married?

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Have some people told you that everything will change once you get married? Well, when it comes to legal issues … that’s kind of true.

Once you’re married, you’ll have rights and benefits that you didn’t have as a single person, even if you were in a long-term committed relationship with someone you shared property — or even children — with. When you enter into a civil marriage (a marriage recognized by the government, as evidenced by your marriage license), you’ll receive the following benefits you may or may not be aware of:

Tax Benefits

If you file a joint tax return, not only do you save money by only having to file one return, but you also may be able to get more tax deductions. Plus, if one of you makes significantly less than the other, your differing incomes will balance out and may pull you into a lower tax bracket than the one the higher-earning spouse was in, thus saving you money.

And thinking long-term, when one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse does not have to pay taxes on any money or assets that are left to them (whereas if that money were given to someone else, that person would have to pay taxes on it).

Estate Planning Benefits

As mentioned above, anything one spouse receives from the other after his or her death will not be taxed. There are also special kinds of trusts that you can create once you are married. And if you have no will or trust stating anything to the contrary, when you die your property and assets will generally pass to your spouse automatically.

Government Benefits

Now that you’re married, you will be eligible to receive your spouse’s Social Security, Medicare and disability benefits. If your spouse is a veteran or serving in the military, you may be eligible for veteran spouse benefits related to education and health care.

Employment Benefits

You can now get health insurance through your spouse’s employer if that is more cost-effective or better coverage. Plus, if your spouse becomes ill, you have a right to take medical leave to care for him or her.

Decision-Making Benefits

If your spouse is sick or incapacitated and can’t make decisions for him or herself, unless there is a legal document that states otherwise, you would be the one in charge of making those decisions regarding medical and end-of-life issues.

Other Benefits and Discounts

In addition to these major legal rights that you’ll have once you tie the knot, you’ll also have other financial and consumer benefits, like receiving family rates or discounts for home and car insurance.

Learn more about how to be prepared and protected as you navigate your journey in life together.

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