The Supreme Court's landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision in June was a clear victory for marriage equality, but married same-sex couples may still have to grapple with conflicting state laws that affect their taxes, health care and property.
Confusion about the financial benefits of marriage among same-sex couples is high. A new survey by Wells Fargo finds that two-thirds of same-sex couples say they don't fully understand the monetary perks of marriage and even more, 71 percent, don't know how laws in their states will affect their marriage, especially when it comes to retirement benefits and inheritances. Wells Fargo surveyed 1,150 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in April before the Supreme Court ruling.
Who can blame them? Even after the ruling, many aspects of a same-sex married couple's financial life still depend where they live, especially if they reside in the 13 states that legally banned same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court decision.
"Marriage has historically been a state-defined right," said Alex Popovich, a wealth advisor at JP Morgan Private Bank who works with many LGBT clients. "There still are a lot of question that exist for same-sex couples residing in states that, prior to the ruling, did not recognize marriage. How long before the ruling becomes effective? Will the states adhere to the ruling, or will there be exceptions? How does the ruling affect all state-specific rights, benefits and obligations?"