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Social Security and Other Same-Sex Spousal Rights

The landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the country, raises issues that should be discussed with a good marriage and estate planning lawyer in Georgia. Due to same sex couples' prior inability to marry legally under the laws of their State, many same sex couples now planning to marry are typically older than the average newlywed couple. One important issue to consider under these facts is Social Security.

Prior to the Obergefell decision, it was only those couples living in states where same-sex marriage had been legalized who could expect to receive Social Security benefits from or for their spouses. Now, though, numerous benefits are potentially available. If one spouse is or becomes disabled, for example, the other spouse may be entitled to a spouse's disability benefit. If one spouse dies, the surviving spouse may be able to claim a $255 lump-sum death benefit. That same surviving spouse could also receive the deceased's retirement benefit if it is greater than his or hers. This area can be difficult to navigate, in that benefits can be suspended or delayed if technical requirements are not followed, so consulting with a Georgia marriage and estate planning lawyer can a good idea.

Often certain criteria must be met to qualify for Social Security benefits. The most basic of these: a legal marriage - can now be achieved for same sex couples.

Other Aspects of a Legal Marriage:

The legal right to marry includes a lot of responsibilities under the law. Marriage is a legal agreement binding on both parties. Marriage also requires financial planning, estate planning, and legal planning, all on top of planning for the wedding! The good news is that a good marriage and estate lawyer in Georgia can give guidai1ce on all of these areas. The attorney can handle a lot of the work for you and it's likely he or she knows a professional in the other ai·eas who can assist.

The ability to be involved in a spouse's health care is one of the most significant rights for same­ sex couples arising from the change in the law. Some of the most important benefits of marriage include being allowed to visit each other in the hospital and to have a voice in making medical decisions. Some of these rights automatically come with being married, but a good marriage and estate planning lawyer in Georgia will urge every married couple, same sex or not, to prepare advance directives for health care, financial powers of attorney, and other comprehensive estate planning documents. Being lawfully married is a great start, but having a complete pla11 with proper estate planning documents puts everything in place, right where it should be.

A Georgia estate planning and marriage lawyer can also help same sex couples who are contemplating marriage prepai·e a prenuptial agreement. It's true that a prenup is not romantic, but sadly, like marriages between opposite gender spouses, many of the unions between same sex couples will likely end in divorce. Prenuptial agreement lawyers in Georgia are able to assist couples with these plai1S.

At The Manely Firm, P.C., we can assist same sex couples who are planning their weddings with estate planning, prenuptial agreements or more. Call us and let's talk about your situation and show you how we can help you.

Steve Worrall

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