PITTSBURGH, April 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- For many same-sex couples, the euphoria of being able to marry their loved one overshadows all other considerations. But, according to James Lange, a CPA, attorney and president of Pittsburgh-based Lange Financial Group, getting married may make financial sense too. In his new book, Retire Secure! For Same Sex Couples (Retire Secure Press, paperback and ebook, May 10, 2014), Lange aims to help same-sex couples navigate the challenges and enjoy the rewards of new laws affecting taxes and retirement plans that can dramatically improve long-term finances. The book offers specific steps and strategies to secure a couple's financial life. All proceeds from the book will be donated to Freedom to Marry, a non-profit organization that promotes marriage equality, championed by civil rights activist Evan Wolfson. Wolfson, who has also appeared on Lange's radio show, is writing the forward for the book.
Divided into eight chapters, the book covers all of the financial bases for same-sex couples.
Chapter 1: The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Consequences of the Windsor Decision outlines the consequences and opportunities provided by the United States v. Windsor decision that opened up the legal definition of spouse to include same-gender spouses for the purposes of inheritance. The chapter also addresses the favorable income tax and IRA and retirement plan changes permitted under the new Revenue Ruling 2013-17, which for most same-sex couples is even more significant.
Within the frame of the United States v. Windsor case and Revenue Ruling 2013-17, the next seven chapters cover IRAs and retirement plans, Social Security benefits, income taxes, trusts, health insurance, and gift, estate and inheritance taxes.
Chapter 2: Optimizing IRAs and Retirement Plans for Same-Sex Couples hinges on the key question: how does retirement and inheritance look financially different for same-sex married couples versus same-sex domestic partners? With numbers, graphs, and examples this chapter hits the highs and lows of retirement and estate planning for same-sex couples.
"One of the key advantages for married same-sex couples comes into play if one member of the couple is not working…"
"As of 2013, married same-sex couples are entitled to inherit their deceased spouse's IRAs or retirement plans and receive the benefits of that transaction. This is the same favorable tax treatment that straight couples have always enjoyed. If you are not legally married, then the likely prospect is a massive income tax acceleration. As shown in the analysis in the charts at the end of the chapter, if youdon't plan appropriately the differences between what your partner vs. your spouse could end up with could easily be measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Chapter 3: Same-Sex Couples and Social Security Benefits links getting married and optimizing Social Security Benefits. By using the techniques recommended in this chapter, many married same-sex couples could literally be hundreds of thousands, sometimes over $1 million better off than their non-married counterparts.
Chapter 4: Income Tax Changes for Married Same-Sex Couples provides concrete examples of the pluses and minuses of filing federal taxes as a married couple. It also offers advice on whether or not it makes sense to file amended returns bases on a couple's new legal status.
Chapter 5: Trusts for Same-Sex Couples challenges some conventional ideas about the appropriateness of trusts. While standard trusts can provide additional protections for married same-sex couples, Lange presents a little known technique called a total return trusts which can be appropriate for many same-sex couples. He also presents a simple (perhaps controversial) alternative that he has used numerous times in practice:
"Here is the deal. I'm going to leave you all of my money (or at least a big chunk of it), but I want you to keep it in a separate account after I die. You agree to have a clause in your will and beneficiary designations, etc. stipulating that, whatever remains of the money that I left you will be returned to my biological heirs or other heirs of my choosing upon your death." – book excerpt
Chapter 6: The Changing World of Health Insurance recognizes that there are new and significant opportunities for health care coverage and potential tax savings provided under the Affordable Care Act. However, if health insurance is a major consideration, Lange cautions that couples should also be leery of some traps that could make insurance more expensive. He also talks about what could be a huge beneficial change.
"The value of the spousal benefit (for health insurance) will no longer be added to the employee's federal taxable income. In fact, in most cases, the entire premium will not be subject to federal income tax." – book excerpt
Chapter 7: Federal and State Gift, Estate, and Inheritance Taxes provides an overview of transfer taxes and discusses the ways same-sex married couples might be able to use gifts as a means to eliminate or decrease inheritance taxes in states that do not currently recognize such marriages.
Chapter 8: Putting All the Pieces Together consolidates three case studies laying out how the advice in Retire Secure! For Same-Sex Couples might play out in three real life scenarios: where both members of a couple live a long life, where one spouse survives the death of the other spouse, and how do all the decisions affect the long-term growth potential for the couple's heirs.
By the end of Retire Secure! For Same-Sex Couples, readers will take comfort in having a blueprint that is easy to understand, flexible and adjustable. The book's visual aids such as charts and graphs make the concepts easy to understand. Most importantly, Lange's advice will provide same-sex married couples with the essential tools they need to grow a secure financial future.
Additional resources are available, most without any cost to visitors, at www.outestateplanning.com.
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