Same Sex Marriage

 

Note: When I was asked to write this as a piece of content, it was with virtually no instruction. There was no research or guidance presented to me, and this was prior to the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. It’s an excellent example of a heavily researched piece of legal content.

 

Same-Sex Marriage in Missouri

 

It is important to note that the legal climate surrounding same-sex marriage is unstable and rapidly changing. This information is believed to be accurate as of the time it was written, but given the rapid changes in same-sex marriage legislation, it cannot be guaranteed as accurate. If you have questions about same-sex marriage in Missouri, we advise you to contact a family law attorney for the most current information and advice.

Until very recently, same-sex marriage and civil union was legally prohibited in the state of Missouri. Due to a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling, same-sex marriage is now legal in certain counties and jurisdictions. However, Attorney General Chris Koster has appealed the decision. If the decision is overturned on appeal, same-sex marriage in Missouri will once again be prohibited.

Getting a Same-Sex Marriage Now

 

For the moment, same-sex marriage is legal in Missouri, but not all counties have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. St. Louis, St. Louis County, Jackson County, and Kansas City have been reported to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In other counties and jurisdictions, it’s probably wise to call first to make sure they’re issuing licenses for same-sex marriage.

It remains to be seen whether same-sex marriage in Missouri is here to stay. At the moment, we’re waiting on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to answer the Attorney General’s request for an appeal. We never know exactly how an appeals court will rule until they hear the case, but we can look at previous precedent.

Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, 455 F.3d 859 (8th Cir. 2006)

 

In 2000, Nebraska passed a state Constitutional amendment prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions. The amendment was appealed as unconstitutional, and the U.S. District Court ruled that the amendment was indeed a violation of the U.S. Constitution. On appeal, the 8th Circuit Court reversed the decision, ruling that “laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples … do not violate the Constitution of the United States.” If the 8th Circuit rules the same way they ruled in their 2006 case, same-sex marriage will be illegal again in Missouri pretty soon.

Hope for Same-Sex Marriage

 

In 2006, only two states explicitly permitted same-sex marriage. Now, there are 37 states (not including Missouri) that allow same-sex couples to marry. Federal agencies like the IRS and the U.S. Military now recognize same-sex marriage. To put it bluntly, a lot has changed since 2006. Despite the previous ruling, they may make a different decision now than they did back then.

Same-Sex Marriage and Same-Sex Divorce (LINK TO SAME-SEX DIVORCE)

 

While much of the focus in the marriage equality debate has been about same-sex marriage, a lot of changes have recently occurred in Missouri regarding same-sex divorce. Until the Missouri Supreme Court ruling in November 2014, same-sex couples who were legally married in other states were not considered legally married in Missouri. Since they weren’t legally married, they couldn’t be legally divorced.

Judges in Greene County and Boone County have been reported to grand same-sex divorces, but some judges in St. Louis have been resistant. If the legal status of same-sex marriage is resolved to permit same-sex couples to marry, the legal landscape for same-sex divorce will get considerably less complicated.

When to Marry

 

If you’re a same-sex couple in Missouri who is ready to get married, you may want to consider doing it sooner rather than later. If the 8th Circuit rules against same-sex marriage, it will again be prohibited in Missouri. However, if you marry during this period and then same-sex marriage is again made illegal, you may find yourself in legal gray area if you decide to divorce later.

What About Civil Unions?

 

Officially, Missouri has never really recognized the concept of a civil union, either. But in practice, there have been ways for same-sex couples to protect themselves, even when the attitude toward gay marriage was more hostile than it is today.

The concept of a civil union is that many (but not all) of the rights and privileges afforded to married couples can be explicitly granted through contracts. For example, if a couple is legally married and the husband dies without a will, the wife will (usually) inherit the entire estate. So if a same-sex couple wanted to ensure that their partner inherited their estate, they could achieve similar results by creating a will.

In a legally recognized marriage, if the wife is unable to make medical decisions due to incapacity, the husband is usually given the right to make those choices on her behalf. But this same right can be granted through certain Powers of Attorney.

If you are a same-sex couple getting married in Missouri and you do NOT yet have a civil union, it might be a good idea to codify the rights and responsibilities of each partner despite the marriage. If Missouri law changes and same-sex marriage is again prohibited, the civil union should provide at least some protection of your relationship.

If you are a same-sex couple who previously had a civil union and you’re seeking a divorce, it’s wise to consider the documents related to your civil union as well. Some of those documents must be changed manually as they will not be automatically voided by a divorce.

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Qualified Longevity Annuities

Crown Atlantic – Email Article on Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts

Crown Atlantic Insurance, a national insurance and annuities company, needed some articles to be sent to their email subscribers. Their focus was on marketing to Baby Boomers who were approaching retirement age or thinking about life insurance, and their primary concern was that the copy we produced be entirely compliant with regulatory rules. On this piece, we needed to meet the requirements of insurance marketing and annuities marketing (which is governed by the SEC).

Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts

An American man who makes it to the age of 65 today can expect to live until the age of 84 or later, and women can expect to live until almost 87. About one of every four of those 65-year-olds will live beyond the age of 90, and one in ten will survive past the age of 95.i Today’s 65-year-olds are also more likely to remain active and working. In 1995, the average age of retirement in the United States was 60; in 2015, it was 66.ii These trends aren’t new, and they’re not expected to go away any time soon.

Advances in medical technology, changes in the way we do our work, and fluctuations in the economy mean that people are living longer and retiring later as time marches on. If you’re planning to finance your retirement with an IRA, a 401k, or a 403b, you can start taking your distributions at any time, but you must start taking your required minimum distributions (RMDs) when you turn 70 ½. If you wait until the age of 70 to take distributions and you’re one of the lucky ten percent who lives to be 95 of older, your retirement must last you at least 25 years.

If you know in advance that you’re going to live to be 90, you can build your income strategy with that in mind. But what happens to people who plan their retirement to last 20 years and then live to be 100? Fortunately, there is a way to help make sure that your retirement income lasts as long as you do.

Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract

A qualified longevity annuity contract (QLAC) is an annuity product that helps ensure that retirement income lasts as long as retirement. With a traditional retirement account (like an IRA, 401k, or 403b), you cannot avoid taking your required minimum distributions once you hit 70 ½, regardless of whether you feel that you need it or not. When you convert part of your traditional retirement account into a QLAC, you are purchasing an annuity which kicks in when you reach a specified age. With a QLAC, your annuity payments could continue for the rest of your life, regardless of how long that is. A longevity annuity could theoretically be purchased with after-tax dollars, but for many people who are approaching retirement, their retirement savings are largely held in retirement accounts that provide beneficial taxation. Until 2014, longevity annuities could only be purchased with after-tax dollars, but the Treasury Department made some adjustments that allow people to purchase a QLAC with their qualified retirement dollars.

What makes it qualified?

In order to qualify as a QLAC, an annuity must meet certain requirements.

  • You can’t put in more than 25% of an employment retirement plan (401k or 403b), or more than 25% of all pre-tax IRAs, into a QLAC.
  • You can’t put in more than $125,000 OR 25% (whichever is less). The $125,000 may change with inflation, so check with your financial advisor for the most current restrictions.
  • Each spouse who has their own retirement accounts may devote up to the limitations; these are individual limitations and not joint.
  • Payouts must begin by the age of 85 or earlier.
  • QLACs must have fixed payouts; they can’t use variable or equity-indexed annuities. However, the QLAC may have a provision for a cost-of-living adjustment.
  • The QLAC must be irrevocable, which means that you can’t surrender it for cash after it’s purchased. Some QLACs have a return-of-premium death benefit that’s paid to your heirs.

Advantages of a QLAC

When your required minimum distributions (RMDs) are distributed, the value of the QLAC is excluded from that calculation. This can help a retiree to hang on to a larger portion of the retirement account, as it reduces the amount of RMDs required. When a retiree reaches the age at which the QLAC begins making payments, the QLAC payments will not count for a retiree’s RMDs. As long as their retirement account is still funded, they will be receiving their RMDs and their QLAC payment for the same time period. A QLAC can supplement your current retirement strategy to help ensure that you don’t outlive your retirement dollars.

Disadvantages of a QLAC

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Is a QLAC right for me?

If you’re considering a QLAC, your best option is to consult with your local annuities agent, or your personal financial advisor. These professionals can look at your retirement strategy and give you individual, tailored advice for your specific needs and objectives.

However, you might consider getting a QLAC if:

  • You have a family history of living past the age of 85
  • You have reason to believe that your medical or living costs may increase after the age of 85
  • Your retirement account may not have the money available to pay for your living expenses for more than 10-15 years
  • You have a strong desire to remain in your own home for the rest of your life and do not want to be forced into a nursing home or living with family because your retirement account runs out
  • You intend to remain active and retain a similar lifestyle as you age and want to ensure that your retirement account can support that
  • You do not have children who are financially capable of supporting you if you outlive your retirement income, or you do not want to ask your children for financial support if that happens

Learn More

To find out more about a QLAC, you can contact your Crown Atlantic agent for a free, no-obligation consultation.

i Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.html

ii Gallup, http://www.gallup.com/poll/168707/average-retirement-age-rises.aspx

 

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