One List You Have to See Before Saying “With This Ring, I Thee Wed”

Written by | Books

Before I do cover

Elizabeth Schwartz is a well-known advocate for LGBT rights and the author of Before I Do: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise, a comprehensive guide for LGBT people (and others) about marriage and its legal implications.

Before I Do starts with a comprehensive look at the battle for marriage equality (condensed to eight pages), and expounds upon the importance of being able to express love and commitment in a way that is universally recognized. Schwartz stresses the need for partners to ask difficult questions and strengthen their communication — helping couples be clear about their motives for marriage and what they want from the ceremony. She also addresses how to properly announce an engagement and marriage socially, legally and to the IRS. She breaks down what marriage really means with regards to taxes, Social Security, insurance, debt, military service, immigration, adoption, child support, property, inheritance and governmental benefits, as well as housing subsidies.

There’s also discussion of a somewhat divisive subject: couples who can marry but choose not to — including the top ten reasons same-sex couples choose to not tie the knot. Schwartz suggests alternatives to marriage, among them civil unions, domestic partnerships and becoming one another’s designated beneficiary — including info on how to keep updated on rules regarding these alternatives as they are in flux.

Elizabeth Schwartz

Elizabeth Schwartz

Estate Planning is perhaps one of the most useful sections of Before I Do — outlining having a will, durable power of attorney to delegate financial powers, advance directives (such as living wills, health care proxies and guardianship designations) and essential documents.

The book also covers the ins and outs of prenuptial agreements with regards to alimony, property designation, income, business interests, commingling, inheritances and gifts, property titling and alternative dispute resolution — in addition to general suggestions about organizing finances.

Though the subject of divorce might seem anathema while planning a marriage, she explains how divorce works — providing examples of specific situations of divorce and opinions by other experts.

Schwartz celebrates the fact that the LGBT community finally has the right to marry, highlighting key points to remember before saying “I do,” and offers a poignant statement on “What Comes Next” by Jim Obergefell (petitioner in the case that led to the Supreme Court requiring states to recognize same-sex marriage).

Last modified: December 6, 2017