Gordon Tanner finds himself radically changing his retirement and estate plans thanks to a new marriage. It's not that the 63-year-old has to worry about having enough money to retire in style, or support his new spouse. Tanner is the principal deputy general counsel of the Air Force, the senior bureaucrat lawyer in that branch of the Service. As a civilian employee at the Pentagon, he is the equivalent to a three-star general. He is entitled to both a federal government pension, plus the federal government's equivalent to a 401(k), called the TSP, or thrift savings plan, plus Social Security. His divorce 16 years ago presents no financial problem-he and his ex-wife and three adult children are all on excellent terms. Tanner's biggest worry is making sure his new spouse will be provided for after his death. His new spouse is a man.
He and Robert Patlan, 44, are planning to build their dream home by the coast in Delaware. The pair was married two years ago in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., which, along with six states, recognizes gay marriage. But in spite of that, they face unique challenges to ensure that the surviving partner inherits the real property they own separately in Alabama and the District of Columbia, and that they own jointly in Delaware. "That creates all sorts of problems relating to estate administration," Tanner says. "If one of us were to pass away, which states would recognize us as married for purposes of estate administration? That's one of the issues in connection with our estate planning. It's complicated."
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