Planning a wedding and getting married can be overwhelming. But once the rings are on, vows shared, and marriage license signed, there are still a few necessary steps to take.
Change Your Last Name
While some couples choose to each maintain their last names, many wives take their husband’s last name, some husbands take their wife's last name, and others both take a new name (be it a hyphenated combination of the two names or a new name altogether). If you’re changing your last name, you’ll have to update it on dozens of documents, from your Social Security card and driver’s license to bank accounts and credit cards.
Start first with the Social Security Office, as you will need an updated card to change many of your other documents. Once you have your updated Social Security card, head over to the DMV to update your driver’s license. You’ll likely also need to notify of your changed last name:
- Your employer (for payroll purposes)
- Post office
- Utilities, phone, Internet, and cable companies (or anywhere you have ongoing bills)
- Credit card companies
- Investment account providers
- Mortgage company
- Insurance companies
- Doctor’s offices
- Voter registration office
- Your attorney to update your will / living trust
- Passport office
Update Your Beneficiaries
Now that you’re married, you will want to make sure you name your spouse as your primary beneficiary. You will also want to name a contingent beneficiary in the event that your spouse passes away before you do. Your previous primary beneficiary, such as your parents, may become your contingent beneficiaries, but only if you fill out the paperwork to properly list them. Review all documents that require a beneficiary, including your will, insurance policies, and retirement and investment accounts.
This may not seem like an important task to immediately complete, but don’t delay. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our other daily duties that we forget to update our beneficiaries altogether. Too often, I’ve seen people neglect their beneficiaries and not even realize who they have listed. In fact, one of my favorite stories to tell is about one of my clients who, to his surprise, had an ex-girlfriend (rather than his wife) listed as the beneficiary on one of his accounts!
Determine How You’ll Handle Your Finances
Like last names, couples have several options for handling their finances. Hopefully, you talked about your finances before you got married. Now that you’re married, it’s time to finalize your decision and take action.
A large majority of married couples choose to merge their assets. This can make it easier to manage your finances and know what’s coming in and going out. However, you may decide to handle your finances in another manner. For example, you may want to create a joint bank account to manage shared bills, but continue maintaining the individual accounts you had prior to marriage. If you go this route, you’ll want to decide who takes ownership of which bills and how the accounts interact with one another.
You’ll also want to create a budget and agree upon how your shared assets are spent and saved. Perhaps one of you will contribute to a 401(k) while the other contributes to a Roth 401(k) account. You may choose to ask each other before making big purchases or allow each other a monthly “allowance” to spend as you wish.
Consult with a Financial Advisor
You’d be surprised by how much can change once you get married, especially when it comes to your finances. In fact, money is the leading cause of stress in marriages because emotions can run high, and people can have differing opinions on money.
This is why you may want to seek guidance from a financial advisor who can serve as an objective partner. An advisor can help you stay focused on the right goals, articulate your financial goals and needs, and create a strategy that incorporates both of your values and objectives. An advisor can also walk you through how much you’ll need for retirement, what it takes to purchase a home, and more. Along with advice and strategies, an advisor can help you evaluate trade-offs and identify new opportunities because, ultimately, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Getting married is a huge milestone in life and it can bring about a lot of changes. As much as you may be enjoying the bliss of the honeymoon phase, don’t neglect to take these four steps so you can start your marriage off on the right foot financially.
As a husband and family man myself, I always enjoy working with couples and helping them navigate life’s many milestones, from purchasing their first home to sending their kids to college to retiring. I’d be more than happy to meet with you and your spouse if you have questions on your new financial situation. To set up a meeting, call my office at (949) 221-8105 x 2128, or email me at [email protected].
About Mike Loo
Mike Loo is an independent financial advisor with more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. His mission is to provide a meaningful impact on the lives of clients and the people they care most about, help them make educated decisions with their money, and build a strong financial foundation for both themselves and their next generation. Mike is committed to meeting a high standard of excellence, taking the time to listen to clients’ needs, and designing strategies that aim to help clients save money and reduce debt. He seeks to fit a client’s investments into their life and educate them so they’ll understand their investments. To learn more about how Mike may be able to help, connect with him on LinkedIn, call his office at (949) 221-8105 x 2128, or email him at [email protected].
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Trilogy Capital, a registered investment advisor. Trilogy Capital and Trilogy Financial are separate entities from LPL Financial.