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.
There are a few financial and estate-related items that recently married couples should consider.
Develop a Budget
Marriage marks an important time to sit down and create a plan for your spending and savings that reflects your new financial situation.
If you decide to have children, your financial picture changes drastically. Now it's more important than ever to create, maintain and stick to a budget. A well-thought-out budget will be your most valuable tool in managing the family money.
If you already have a budget, you'll need to revise it to fit your new, expanded family. Instead of throwing away your old budget, use it as a starting point for the new one by going through each expense and determining whether it will change with the addition of children. If you don't have a budget, this is a great opportunity for you to create one.
Review Your Beneficiaries
Go through each of your accounts — including retirement plans and insurance — to ensure that the beneficiaries listed are still accurate. If you would like your spouse or children to receive the funds from your accounts in the event of your death, make them the beneficiaries.
Revisit Your Insurance
Once you are married, it's important to sit down and review your and your spouse’s medical, life and car insurance plans. Determine if you could be saving money by joining a family plan, which could offer better rates and coverage.
Changing Your Name
If you decide to 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 contact 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 including your driver’s license, state-issued identification and passport.
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, they can ensure some security for both partners and establish expectations in case of unpredictable events.
It may be wise to develop a prenuptial agreement if either spouse has the following:
- Wealth to preserve
- Children from a previous marriage or relationship
- Ownership of a company or property
- An expected inheritance or other assets
- Ongoing family-related financial obligations
- A much higher income than the other partner
If you're already married, you may decide you want a postnuptial agreement for the same reasons couples opt to sign a prenuptial contract. 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. If this is a second marriage, couples may want to protect children of a prior marriage to ensure they are included in any asset distribution.