Sometimes it seems like being gay and having a husband means having to talk abou the kind of things that other people take for granted, even while doing something as mundane as rolling over a 401(k) It definitely means having to think about and talk about things that I bet a good number of married heterosexual couples don’t think about. In many cases, they don’t have to. Just being married protects them.
It’s something we faced when we finalized Parker’s adoption, and took the occasion to update our wills, as well as completing advance directives and medical powers of attorney. And it’s something we’ll have to think about again, as we update our wills and other documents when we finalize Dylan’s adoption. It was yesterday, after the social worker (who’d came over for one of the required home study visits before Dylan’s adoption is finalized), and after we had dinner that the hubby told me about the latest development in Maryland.
Unmarried couples, gay and straight, could qualify for property benefits given to married couples under a bill tentatively approved by the Maryland Senate.
The bill allows domestic partners to avoid transfer and recordation taxes when transferring property to their partners or stepchildren. The tax benefit is currently given only to married couples.
Senators signed off on the measure after voting to close debate and prevent any filibuster attempt. The Senate already has voted to expand medical decision-making powers for domestic partners.
It sounds simple, but it’s pretty huge for some same-sex couples. Right now, if one partner in a same-sex couple dies, and his or her name is on the title of the couple’s home, the surviving partner can inherit the home but not without paying taxes on. My guess is that if each partner owns a percentage of the home the same thing applies; if you inherit your partner’s portion of the house you pay taxes, because it’s considered a "gift," between people who are legal strangers to each other.
As the hubby dished out Parker’s post-dinner strawberry ice cream and I gave Dylan his post-dinner bottle, we discussed the Senate measure, what would happen right now if either of us died, and what would change after if the Senate measure becomes state law. We talked about it in pretty much the same way another couple might talk about someting that needs doing around the house.
I can only guess the reason for tax married benefit in the cases of married couples. I can only guess that it helps them in the same way it would help our family. In the event that something happened to me or the hubby, it would mean that it might be easier for the surviving family members to keep our home, or at least to stay in our home longer than we’d be able to if we were facing a huge tax bill while also dealing with the loss of a parent and partner.
It’s not something either of us like to think about. In fact, once we talked about what we’d need to do if the tax benefits become law, I quickly changed the subject. Losing my husband or leaving my family behind is not something I want to spend much time thinking about. But it’s something we have to think about and do our best to plan for, because it’s one more way that our family isn’t protected.
If Maryland does end up passing its "gay tax" cut it’ll be one less thing we have to worry about, at least not quite so much.