Annuities can be an excellent investment tool for those who want to plan for retirement or have a steady income stream after they stop working. However, navigating the annuities world can be more complicated for same-sex couples. This guide will provide some guidelines on annuities for same-sex and LGBTQIA+ marriages.
Annuities for Same-Sex Couples
Same-sex couples face some unique challenges when it comes to annuities. Before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, many insurance companies did not offer annuities to same-sex couples. Even today, some insurance companies may not offer annuities to same-sex couples or may offer them at different rates than they do for opposite-sex couples.
Legal Protections for Same-Sex Couples
Fortunately, same-sex couples now have legal protections when it comes to annuities. The Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges means that same-sex couples have the same legal rights as opposite-sex couples regarding marriage and all the benefits that come with it, including annuities.
Choosing an Insurance Company
When choosing an insurance company for an annuity, it is essential to do your research. Look for companies with a good reputation, strong financial ratings, and a history of treating all customers fairly, regardless of sexual orientation. In addition, some insurance companies may offer unique benefits or discounts for same-sex couples, so be sure to ask about those.
Naming a Beneficiary
A critical consideration for same-sex couples is naming a beneficiary for their annuity. In the past, insurance companies may have automatically named the opposite-sex spouse as the beneficiary, even if the policyholder was in a same-sex marriage. However, today, insurance companies should allow you to name any beneficiary you choose, regardless of their gender or relationship to you.
What Same-Sex Couples Should Know About Annuities
Same-sex married couples can take advantage of the joint lifetime income benefit offered with fixed index and variable annuities. However, there are some exclusions.
A joint lifetime income benefit is when an annuity distributes a guaranteed retirement paycheck for both spouses’ lives, even when the annuity has run out of money.
All legally recognized married couples are also eligible for spousal continuation benefits.
Civil unions and domestic partnerships (non-marital legal relationships) may not be eligible for joint income or spousal continuation benefits.
Every insurance company is different.
Some have a flat “not eligible policy.” In contrast, other insurance companies have an “applicable state law” policy. If civil unions and domestic partnerships are treated as “spouses” under the applicable state law, the insurance company will participate in joint lifetime income and spousal continuation benefits.
Non-legal marital legal relationship policies apply to all legal relationships regardless of sexual preference.
Just check with the insurance company before purchasing.
Checking with a local tax advisor may help as well.
Regardless, “married” is every state’s key term for these spousal-related benefits.
What if I can’t take advantage of spousal-related benefits?
You can always name your partner the primary beneficiary, treated under standard annuity death benefits rules.
You can’t take part in a joint-lifetime payout or spousal continuation.
Same-Sex Couples Social Security Benefits
The Social Security Administration recognizes same-sex marriages in all states and non-marital legal relationships when determining Social Security Income Benefits. Contact them if you plan to apply for near-future benefits to maximize your retirement income opportunity.
Annuities can be an excellent investment tool for retirement planning or creating a steady income stream. However, navigating the annuities world can be more complicated for same-sex couples. By understanding the types of annuities, the pros and cons of annuities, and the legal protections for same-sex couples, you can make informed decisions about investing in annuities. Always research when choosing an insurance company, and don’t hesitate to ask questions about unique benefits or discounts for same-sex couples. Finally, you can find an annuity that meets your needs with the correct information and a little effort.
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