The Marriage Checklist

Spring is in full swing and for many couples, that means wedding bells. A wedding can be one of the highlights of life. Following months or even years of planning, weddings can be a whirlwind experience culminating with major life changes. With the celebration over and the bells quiet, it’s time to start planning for a future together. Whether you’re recently married or planning to be married soon, there’s a lot to accomplish after exchanging vows. Take the worry away and keep track with this simple list. Grab your partner, a glass of wine, and learn what to do after getting married.

1. Change Your Name (Legally)

Oftentimes, people will adopt their spouse’s last name at marriage. Beyond changing how you sign your name, a name change requires action on your part. With your marriage license in hand, obtain a new Social Security Card, Passport, and Driver’s License.

2. Have “The Talk” About Money

You’ve both led lives separate from each other for some time. Before you can create a financial future, you’ll want to disclose your past. Divulging assets, credit scores, debts and more may not sound altogether enthralling, yet getting these out in the open help overcome potential obstacles.

3. Update Your Marital Status

Updating marital status is separate from changing your name at the DMV. Insurance carriers, utility services, clubs and more will want to know if your marital status changes. Today, that can mean a long list to fulfill. Head over to HitchSwitch.com for simple solutions for making updates quickly.

4. Update Bank Accounts

Decide how you’re going to manage bank accounts together. This can include changing your name at the bank, adding a spouse to a bank account, opening a shared bank account, and more. Often, this can include ordering updated checks, credit cards, and debit cards all reflecting any name and account changes.

5. Develop a New Financial Plan

A wedding may represent months or years of financial planning. It also joins two different personalities and their unique goals under one financial umbrella. Following a wedding, your financial plans will likely require a complete overhaul as the two are joined together. Have a conversation about your long-term financial goals.

6. Create a New Budget

Moving in together can have a big effect on the monthly budget, but often for the better. Removing duplicate utilities, entering joint accounts, and other shared services can help save money. For help on how to reduce your monthly budget, try an online service such as Mint.com.

7. Eliminate Wedding Debt

Dipping into credit to pay for weddings is common, just don’t let it cripple your finances. Savvy couples will prioritize eliminating debt accrued from their wedding as soon as possible. Carrying wedding debt for the long haul leads to more interest payments, less paid into savings, and fewer credit opportunities.

8. Adjust Your Taxes

Once you tie the knot your tax situation inevitably changes. From filing status to the amount of taxes withheld from each paycheck, you may wish to consider making several changes to your taxes. A CPA can help make the necessary adjustments, and several online tax preparation software tools are available.

9. Explore Health Insurance Options

Couples have the freedom to choose their own health plans yet in many cases, there may be savings for joining the same healthcare plan. Private and employer-offered health insurance plans vary, yet most require action within 30 days of marriage for policies to take effect.

10. Update Home & Auto Insurance

Marriage means sharing, from the roof over your head to, in many cases, the car you drive. Simply changing your status from “single” to “married” can help reduce insurance rates. Call your insurance agent to update your insurance policies. Shared auto and home insurance policies, and other opportunities for saving are available for married couples.

11. Obtain or Update Life Insurance

In a partnership, a spouse may be dependent on the other for income. Prepare ahead by obtaining or updating life insurance and placing your spouse as the listed beneficiary. Welcoming another person into your life may also be the right time for increasing life insurance payout amounts.

12. Create or Update Trusts and Wills

Married couples may wish to update their existing wills and/or trusts, reflecting their partner as the beneficiary. For those without an existing will or trust, now may be the time to consider the impact a loss could have on your newly-formed family. Speak to an estate planning attorney for help with trusts and wills.

13, Schedule Ongoing Financial Evaluations

Finances exist in a fluid environment. The best way to stay on top of your finances is to revisit them often with your spouse. Regular check-ins with your financial advisor can also help keep your financial plan on track. You and your spouse likely have big plans and big dreams. A financial advisor can help you create a pathway towards pursuing them.

About the Author:
Kevin recently married the love of his life in April 2018. These are topics he’s helped clients address in the past, but after experiencing them first-hand he was inspired to create a written list newly-married couples could easily reference.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.