Planning for marriage involves more than just deciding whether to serve dinner at the reception and whether you should take a honeymoon cruise. If you are planning for marriage, you are faced with enormous responsibility of combining your personal finances with your spouses and reassessing the way both of you structure personal finances as unmarried individuals.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract executed by prospective spouses that may define the rights, duties, and obligations of the parties during marriage and in the event of separation, divorce, annulment, or death. If both you and your prospective spouse are young and have comparable net worth, a prenuptial agreement may not be necessary. However, if either of you has a substantial amount of assets, owns a business, or has children from a previous marriage, you may want to discuss the possibility of this agreement with your attorney.
Management of your finances as a couple can bring along many challenges. Money issues that concern spouses include proper budgeting, saving, and investing to ensure that both of you will have a successful financial future together. You should also determine how marriage impacts your insurance needs. Insurance issues that concern married couples include reevaluating your existing coverage to be sure that it is adequate, considering whether or not your marital status changes your need for insurance, updating beneficiary designations, and reviewing existing policies for reductions in premiums.
Marriage can also alter the benefits you are eligible to receive from your employer. When you marry, both you and your spouse should determine how you can obtain maximum employee and retirement benefits at the lowest cost.
The way you structure the ownership of your real or personal property as a married couple is also an important step. The method of property ownership can affect future sales of that property, divorce proceedings, or the distributions of an estate upon the property owner’s death. Property ownership issues that concern spouses include whether to own property jointly, whether to retain sole ownership, and what the consequences are of living in a community property state.