Marriage is a very important stage in one’s life because it means that you tied an emotional as well as financial knot with your partner. To be properly prepared and enjoy your married life, follow this checklist to upgrade your individual financial plan to a joint one. (For more, see: Top 6 Marriage-Killing Money Issues.)
1. Update Name If You Change It After Marriage
- Go to the Social Security office to update your name in person.
- Notify your employer and any other professionals about your name change.
- Start updating your name on the following, including but not limited to: driver’s license, passport, bank accounts, credit cards, insurance policies, investment accounts, cars, house, debts, etc.
- Keep at least one of your old identifications just in case.
2. Organize Finances Together
- Decide if you want to manage your finances separately or jointly.
- Make a list of your shared assets, debts, income and expenses and allocate respective responsibility. If you live in one of the nine community property states, half of your income and assets during the marriage will be owned by your spouse automatically.
- Update the titles of everything you would like to be owned jointly and make sure it is titled correctly (i.e., tenants in common, joint tenants with right of survivorship or payable on death/transfer on death).
- Set personal and family financial goals.
3. Optimize Finances As a Couple
- Review your credit reports and credit scores. Determine if you need to and/or how you could improve your credit score for future financial goals, such as buying a home.
- Decide whether you would like to consolidate your separate financial accounts into one joint account.
- Review and update the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and financial accounts.
- Review your medical benefits and see if it’s more beneficial to join a family health plan instead of the individual health plan.
- Update your W-4 with your employer to decrease or increase your withholding tax.
- Determine how your marital status will affect your taxes (i.e. should you file as married filing jointly or married filing separately?).
- Consider getting more life and/or disability insurance since you have more family responsibilities.
- Get new quotes on your auto insurance and see if you could get family and/or multi-policy discounts.
- Consider adding new valuable personal properties to your renter or homeowner insurance (i.e., engagement ring, wedding ring and your spouse’s personal properties).
- Update your will, power of attorney, living will, and any other estate planning documents if necessary.
- Create a family budget and see whether you could cut some expenses as a couple.
- Create saving plans for each financial goals.
- Discuss each one’s risk tolerance and investment philosophy. Determine investment strategy for family goals.
- Decide if you need any professional help on implementing anything mentioned above and who you need.
It is not always easy for newlyweds to discuss their financial matters. The best approach is to communicate openly and candidly. By combining your financial plans or at least creating a family financial plan together, you will lay a solid foundation for your partnership. It is important to keep communicating, monitoring and updating your financial plans to have the most success with your finances in marriage. (For more from this author, see: Why and How You Should Keep an Estate Out of Probate.)
Disclaimer: All written content in this article is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of X and Y Advisors, Inc., unless otherwise specifically cited. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to another parties’ informational accuracy or completeness. All information or ideas provided should be discussed in detail with an advisor, accountant or legal counsel prior to implementation.