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Same-Sex Couples: When You Marry, Who Should Be Notified?

The day has come--you're finally getting married. Now that your life is changing, you'll need to let others know. Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are some of the people and institutions you may need to notify.

Your employer

When you marry, you'll want to contact your employer's human resource department in order to re-evaluate the benefits that are available to you. For example, you may want to enroll your spouse in your health and dental plans, or cancel your own coverage if you opt for coverage under your spouse's plan.

Normally you can make benefit changes only during your employer's annual open enrollment period, but under IRS guidelines there's an exception for certain qualifying events, including marriage. However, you have a limited window (30 days) to make eligible changes. If you don't make these changes within this period, you'll need to wait until the next open enrollment season.

Your company's human resource representative can give you information about other information you'll need to update. For example, you may need to update contact information and beneficiary designations for your life insurance, accident insurance, retirement plan, and other benefits. You may also need to report any name and address changes.

You might also take a second look at your federal and state income tax withholding. If you and your spouse both work, you may end up in a higher tax bracket based on your combined income. Make any necessary adjustments by completing updated tax forms, such as a new Form W-4. For more information about withholding and other tax issues, visit www.irs.gov. You may want to talk to a tax professional for help with your particular situation.

Finally, review retirement plan contributions. If both you and your spouse are contributing to retirement plans, you may want to plan jointly, even though you're contributing separately. For example, you might adjust your contribution rate or change your investment mix.

The Social Security Administration

If you decide to legally change your name, you'll need to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) so you can get a corrected Social Security card. Your Social Security number will remain the same; only your name will change. You'll need to provide recent documentation, such as a copy of your marriage certificate. Notifying the SSA as soon as possible is important to help prevent problems later on. For example, if you file a joint tax return, the IRS will have trouble processing your return if the name shown on your tax return doesn't match your SSA records, and this could delay an expected refund.

The SSA can answer any questions you have about current or future benefits you may be entitled to as a married individual. For more information, visit www.ssa.gov.

Your insurance company

If you have disability or life insurance policies, you'll want to determine whether your existing coverage is adequate. While life insurance helps ensure that your family is financially provided for at your death, disability insurance provides your family with income if you're unable to work as a result of a serious illness or injury. Contact your insurance professional to discuss how marriage affects your insurance needs. You should also review your auto and homeowners coverage. For example, you may want to combine your individual policies with one company or change your coverage limits.

Your attorney

Your attorney can help you update your estate planning documents such as a will, trusts, powers of attorney, and living wills. If you have children, you may need to discuss other issues, such as guardianship and adoption.

Financial institutions

You and your spouse will have to decide whether to combine your bank and credit union accounts or keep them separate. Maintaining a joint account does have advantages, such as easier record keeping and potentially lower overall maintenance fees. However, it's sometimes more difficult to keep track of how much money is in a joint account when two individuals have access to it, and your spending styles may be different. If you decide to open a joint account or want to add your spouse to an existing account, contact an account representative who can tell you what paperwork you'll need to fill out and what documentation is required.

If you're legally changing your name, don't forget to ask about the process for updating your account information. For example, you may need to bring in a new photo ID, along with a copy of your marriage certificate, and fill out a new signature card. You may also need to obtain a new debit card and credit card.

If you change your name

The exact process and timeline for changing your name may vary by state or transaction type, but generally it's a good idea to complete your name change as soon as possible. To avoid delays, obtain official copies of your marriage certificate and a reissued copy of your Social Security card showing your new name. Here's a short list of who you may need to contact to update your name:

  • State department or registry of motor vehicles
  • Utility and phone companies
  • Post office
  • Passport office
  • Physician's office
  • Local voter's registration office
  • Social media companies
  • Professional membership organizations and schools

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2020.