Starting Your Financial Life Together
Once the wedding is over, the practicality of day-to-day life together begins. In addition to dividing household responsibilities, couples will also need to determine who will pay the bills, track investments, review bank statements and more. Although it's not necessary to assign each task to one partner, it is critical that you have a system in place to ensure these tasks get done. Here are a few financial and estate-related items that recently married couples should consider.
Review Your Beneficiaries
Go through each of your accounts–including retirement plans and insurance–and ensure that the beneficiaries listed are still accurate. If you would like your spouse to receive the funds from your accounts in the event of your death, make him or her the beneficiary.
Revisit Your Insurance
Upon getting married, it's important to sit down and review both of your medical, life and car insurance plans. Review whether your coverage overlaps in certain areas, or whether you could be saving money by combining coverage.
Changing Your Name
If you change your name upon marrying–to your spouse's last name or to a hyphenated name–it's important that you notify certain organizations of the change. You should notify the Social Security Administration immediately to ensure that your retirement account is properly credited, and also to request a new Social Security card. Change your name on all important documents and accounts. And remember to change your name on your driver's license, which serves as the primary form of identification for most Americans.
Develop a Budget
Whether you already have individual budgets and want to combine them or you are new to budgeting, marriage marks an important time to sit down and create a plan for your spending and savings. Your new budget should reflect your shared living situation and both of your incomes and expenses. For help developing a joint budget, click here.
A prenuptial agreement outlines how assets will be divided in the event that the marriage ends. While some people consider prenuptial agreements to be unromantic or to represent a lack of faith, others feel they can ensure some security for both partners and help them know what to expect in the event the marriage ends.
It may be wise to develop a prenuptial agreement if either spouse has:
- Wealth to preserve
- Children from a previous marriage or relationship
- Ownership of a company
- An expected inheritance or other assets
- Ongoing family-related financial obligations
- A much higher income than the other partner
If you're already married and have come into wealth or you've just decided you want a financial agreement with your spouse, consider a postnuptial agreement. In some other cases, such as when one spouse enters into a business partnership with another individual, a postnuptial agreement may be an important contract to consider.
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