On August 27, 2016, I will be getting married to an amazing guy; he proposed at a fundraising event I have been a part of for going on six years, in front of a crowd of 250 people back in October. Now that the big day is just over a couple months away, we have a lot of the wedding plans set – we have a reception hall, a church, a priest, music, etc. This is the fun stuff that most people think about, but how many people think about the not-so-fun and totally unromantic stuff? If you or someone you know is getting married soon (there are three more in our office alone getting married in the next year or so!), here are somethings to think about:
- Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements. I know, I know, way to start the list with the LEAST romantic thing possible. However, these agreements can be extremely important where there are business assets involved, especially if it is a family owned business.
- Bank Accounts. Will the newlyweds be combining accounts; all accounts or just some? Do you want your spouse to receive the contents of any accounts owned only by you? If so, you need to speak to your bank about naming a “pay on death” or “transfer on death” beneficiary of your accounts.
- Life Insurance. Do you have life insurance through work, or individual policies? Who is your current beneficiary, and do you want to change that to be your spouse?
- Retirement Accounts. If you have a retirement account, like the above, you need to look at who you have as the beneficiary of that account and if you want to change the beneficiary to be your spouse. If you do not name your spouse, there may be additional paper work required for certain retirement accounts.
- Investments. As with the above, you want to consider who is an owner on your investment accounts, and who gets the assets in the account(s) upon your passing.
- Real Estate. Check the deeds to your real estate – do you want your spouse added to certain property? Do you know that there can be benefits to owning real property with your spouse? This is a great topic to bring up with your estate planner!
- Estate Planning. Speaking of estate planning, now that you’re getting married, you need an estate plan! An estate plan covers everything from what happens to all of your stuff when you die, to who makes important decisions during your life if you were incapacitated. Additionally, you can name your spouse as Agent under a Durable Power of Attorney, and if it is effective immediately your spouse can then help manage all assets held in your name (i.e. bank accounts, investment accounts, real properly).
- Updated Estate Plan. If you were ahead of the curve and already had an estate plan, now that you are getting married, do you need to do some updates? It’s probably a good idea to call your attorney to see! This is especially important if you are getting married and have children from a previous marriage; you want to be sure your spouse and your children are cared for.
- The Name Game. That question that so many people get – are you changing your name? Things to think about if you do: you will need a new driver’s license, and a new passport, you will need to update all of your credit cards, bank accounts, retirement accounts – all accounts that have your name on them. Be sure to notify your human resources department, the Social Security Office, and the state that you live in . . . for starters. Basically, save all your mail and emails that you receive in a month and be sure to notify all the senders that your name has changed!
- Residual Impact. What if your son or daughter, or other loved one is the person getting married, and that person getting married is named as a beneficiary in your estate planning documents? You now need to consider how you want that inheritance to be treated. If is a substantial amount, you may want to consider putting it into a trust with some restrictions if you are concerned about a spouse having access to the assets.
This is just a sampling of the some of the important items you need to consider when joining your life to another. No, they are not sweet, romantic, fun things to think about, but they are important, and do need to get done. If you and your spouse are looking for a place to stash your commingled investments, or for a corporate trustee when doing your estate planning, consider Legacy Trust! If you have questions, we are here and happy to help.