The legal and financial aspects of your nuptials should be planned as carefully as your wedding service, ceremony, and reception. There are a few unwritten rules that should be addressed during the dating and engagement period of a relationship before saying “I do.”
Support Each Other. This may sound simple easy as pie, but once you’re married, you have a legal responsibility to support each other and your future children. This obligation includes family expenses, medical coverage, education, food and housing, and the general upkeep of your household.
Marital Property. Without a prenuptial agreement, marital law generally assumes that each partner’s personal assets will become assets of the marriage, just like earnings or assets acquired after the marriage. In the event of a divorce, the court will equitably (but not necessarily equally) divide all assets, no matter whose name is on the title.
Spousal Debts. Know each other’s financial histories! Marriage can make you legally responsible for your spouse’s pre-existing debt. Even if your are not directly liable for your partner’s debt, debt collection may impact your marital or jointly owned property, and beneficiary rights.
Inheritance. Without a will, you won’t be able to decide how your estate gets divided between your surviving spouse, your children, and your other heirs, nor will you be able to designate a guardian for your children. Planning ahead and drafting a will can ensure that your estate is properly handled. It will also help you and your loved ones take full advantage of tax cuts.
Beneficiaries. Revisit all of your accounts ~ from retirement plans to insurance policies and update your beneficiaries where you see fit. This includes reviewing and updating your medical, life, and car insurance plans. You may find that combining coverage may save you money or that you have insurance plans that overlap.
Property Ownership. Generally, married couples own property, as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, but some assets are better owned in other ways. For example, depending on the conditions of a trust, it may be safest and wisest if only one partner is entitled to the contents.
Record Keeping. You should keep important records and legal documents in a concise filing system, such as in a fireproof safe or in a safety deposit box so you both know where to find important files and folders. This will help you stay organized in the past and for the future.
It is important to remember that keeping an open line of communication between you and your significant other can help build trust and establish roles in your marriage. Happy wedding!