When you get married, it’s important to think about your finances as a team. After all, sharing a life with someone should stretch beyond splitting the tab on your current living expenses. It may seem overwhelming at first, but getting all of your pennies lined up isn’t as painstaking as it seems. In fact, we’ve made it a little easier for you with a few handy lists below.
Let’s start with naming who gets what once you are dearly departed.
Friends with beneficiaries
In the event of your — or your spouse’s —death, who will receive access to the money, benefits, properties, or assets that are left behind? Consider updating the following accounts to show each other as the new beneficiary or transfer on death designation.
- Existing checking/savings account
- Life insurance: Employer-based and stand-alone policy if you already have one
- Investments: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.
- Retirement accounts: 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, 403(b)
- Military benefits
- Pension: SEP / SARSEP
- Property, titles, and assets that might currently name someone else as the beneficiary (Example: You previously named a sibling to receive a benefit that your spouse should now be getting)
Next, consider how you can save money and keep your shared expenses tidy by combining your current accounts.
Two hearts (and accounts) become one
Here are some accounts you might consider creating or consolidating now that you’re hitched.
- Open joint banking account/credit cards: Create an account for housing expenses, travel funds, emergencies, and whatever is financially important for you two.
- Merge your health insurance plan: Marriage qualifies as a special enrollment period so sign up as soon as you can.
- Bundle your car/renter/ homeowner insurance: Consider a family (sometimes called a bundle or an umbrella) plan for your household; if the rates are better than what you’re currently paying for stand-alone coverage, go for it.
- Get a family mobile phone plan: If a family plan has a better rate, take advantage.
- Re-title property ownership documents: Even if you solely own your car, or anything else that is titled (including a home), consider adding your spouse to the ownership documentation. These types of assets usually pass to your spouse, but it’s not guaranteed unless it’s in writing.
- Consolidate duplicate accounts/services: Do you need two Costco accounts? Two Netflix or Amazon Prime accounts? Save some money and consolidate.
Shared Documentation is also important. From preparing your will to posthumously paying for expenses (like a mortgage), here are a few more things to consider.
Here comes the will
Compared to planning a wedding, getting a will in place is a piece of cake. And if you’re planning for babies in the future, or if you already have kids, this is where you name the all-important guardian.
If you currently have a will, update it to include your spouse. To cover all of your bases, it’s best to meet with an estate attorney to make sure everything’s done right. Most attorneys can also safely store the official, signed copy of the will as well. As an added benefit, by hiring a professional you can take care of the next thing on this list too.
Learn more: All You Need To Know About Creating A Will
Share the power...of attorney
Your power of attorney (POA) has power over everything involving legal and financial matters. This includes paying bills, managing bank accounts, overseeing investments, signing contracts, and filing your taxes. Again, we suggest meeting with an estate attorney when you’re creating your will to make sure it’s done right.
Learn more: All You Need To Know About Naming A POA
The sweet life (insurance)
You might already have life insurance through your job, but is it enough to support your new family if something happens to you? Look into meeting with an insurance agent and getting a stand-alone term or whole life policy. If you already have a stand-alone policy, make sure you update the beneficiary information.
In sickness and in health
The last thing you want to think about right now are the medical decisions you might have to make if you or your spouse get sick or injured. However, it’s best to make these decisions when you’re happy, healthy, and with a clear head.
Creating an advance directive, which is comprised of your living will and naming a health care proxy, is simple and painless. Find your state’s advance directive form, fill it out, sign it, keep it somewhere easy for your spouse to access, and have the peace of mind knowing you just took a huge burden off your family’s shoulders.
Can we see some ID?
We accumulate a lot of identification and official documentation throughout our lives. Now’s the time to get it all sorted and organized in case you need it to buy a house, get insurance, or do other adult things. Here’s a rundown:
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate
- Social Security card (or a place where you spouse can easily find your social security number)
- Armed forces ID / discharge papers
- Citizenship documentation
- Prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
- Divorce decree (from previous marriages, of course)
- Documents related to any children you already have (example: adoption or legal guardianship papers)
Let’s get digital
In the event of an emergency or incapacitation, it’ll prove helpful to have access to your spouse’s passcodes and passwords. It can also prevent a lot of headaches if one of you can never seem to remember the Wifi password:
- Mobile phone
- Home security system
And while we’re on the topic of passwords, there may also be a list of digital accounts and online services to consider. Here’s a quick rundown to get you started:
- Password manager: If you use a password manager, and you probably should, your master password is the most important one to share.
- Home utilities: Power, cable, phone, etc.
- Health / medical: Insurance provider (including supplemental insurance), prescription services
- Financial / money management: Anything set up for automatic payments, budgeting tools, credit cards, mortgage
- Entertainment: Video/ streaming services, music, gaming
- Food / shopping / delivery services
- Cloud storage: Photos, media
- Travel / ticketing / rewards: Frequent flyer miles, reward points
It may not seem like an activity you want to do fresh off a honeymoon, but if you take the time now to organize your important information, and to set up a financial plan, you’ll be able to move forward into a more certain future. And speaking of the future, be sure to update all of your lists and planning as your life together grows.
This article is provided by Everplans — a life and legacy planning company dedicated to transforming the way people get their families organized. For more information, visit: everplans.com
Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment, or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.