Book Review: Money Without Matrimony

MONEY WITHOUT MATRIMONY: The Unmarried Couples Guide to Financial Security, Sheryl Garrett and Debra Neiman, Dearborn Trade Publishing. Paperback $21.95 (248p) ISBN 1-4195-0688-9)

Who knew? If you were in a heterosexual relationship and got married, there would be 1,143 federal laws that protect your personal finances. But since that's not the case for the 1.2 million gay and lesbian couples in America, out lesbians and Certified Financial Planners Sheryl Garrett and Debra Neiman have written Money Without Matrimony to help answer the hard financial planning questions. This well-written book helps gay and lesbian couples "plan around" the federal laws that negate right of survivorship benefits for same sex couples when tragedy arises like the illness or death of a partner. According to Garrett and Neiman, "If you want your partner or someone other than your parents or next of kin - no matter how distant a blood relationship - to sort through your possessions, inherit or distribute your stuff, the situation is far more complicated" than if you were married. Aside from looking at doomsday scenarios the book lays out everyday decisions that both short- and long-term couples should be thinking about like whether or not to merge finances, deciding how property should be rented and owned and the ramifications of each decision. Using easy-to-understand, accessible language, the authors have written a book that is a quick read or an easy reference guide to answer financial questions on the fly. While this book covers some of the same legal ground that can be found in other books on the topic, Money Without Matrimony picks up where the others left off with savvy personal finance advice in addition to legal advice. Filled with sage advice from financial professionals about the unique financial planning issues gay and lesbian couples face, this book forces partners to ask the questions they need to answer until (if) they receive full legal marital rights.

Al Martin is a freelance writer covering personal finance, real estate and investing topics.

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