Weddings may conjure up romantic images of flowing dresses, flowers, and love everlasting. But the paperwork and legalities about marriage, finances, and wills? Well, that’s not nearly as exciting. However, getting these pesky pre-marital tasks in order before you walk down the aisle is a surefire way to start your union off on the right foot. Whether you’ve set the date or are just beginning to dream big, it’s never too early to start taking care of business.
Get your marriage license
Of all the wedding details swirling around in your brain, it can be easy to overlook one crucial necessity: getting your actual marriage license. Thankfully, the application process is usually a cinch. Just grab your partner and go to the Clerk’s Office in the county where you live, fill out the form, and pay a small fee. Blood tests and witnesses are no longer required in Indiana. However, you must be age 18 or over, unless you have parental consent. One last important reminder: Indiana marriage licenses are valid for 60 days, so don’t prepare this step until your special date is less than two months away.
Planning a destination wedding outside the US? Marriage license requirements differ depending on where you’ll be getting married. Extra planning and preparation may be needed to gather special documents like birth certificates, passports, and divorce records. Sometimes other countries even require blood tests and proof of residency. Be sure to allow yourself extra time to get everything in order well in advance of the big day.
Take a look at your debts, assets, and credit
Once you get married, your finances and your spouse’s finances often become one. That includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. Talking about money can be awkward, but good communication about financials is critical. To avoid any nasty surprises post-wedding, plan to sit down and discuss your debts and assets beforehand. This is also a great time to examine your credit scores. Federal law requires the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—provide you with one free report each year.
Consider a prenuptial agreement
For some, finances and prenups can be a sensitive topic. But with couples now tying the knot later in life, people are coming into marriage with more assets and debts than ever before, making prenups even more relevant. Millennials are often waiting until their late 20s to early 40s to settle down, meaning some have accumulated wealth in retirement accounts, personal property, and real estate. On the flip side, many brides and grooms also bring substantial student loan and credit card debt into a marriage.
We understand prenups often get a bad rap, implying a marriage might fail or be full of mistrust. But the truth is, a prenuptial agreement is like an insurance policy for your marriage, in case the unthinkable happens. You hope you never need it, but it’s a lifesaver when you do. Ensuring your prenup is written well and will hold up in court can give you peace of mind. And although these conversations with your significant other can be uncomfortable, talking about a possible prenup well in advance of the wedding can be less stressful.
Decide how you’ll file taxes
Whether you file taxes jointly or separately, there are pros and cons to both. Make an appointment with a trusted accountant or tax attorney to review your options before your first tax season together strikes.
Discuss insurance options
Home, auto, health, and life policies all play a crucial role in your budget, especially if trouble comes knocking. Take a look at each of your policies, and see if it makes sense to be on the same plans together. Sometimes joining your spouse’s insurance can save you money, but not always. So check the fine print, call your agent, or talk to your HR department to get the facts.
Prepare a will
Thinking about the tough things in life is probably not something you want to do at this time as a near-newlywed, but toughing out these conversations now can save you considerable headaches in the future. That means discussing wills, estate planning, and how to handle assets and other situations in the event of the unexpected. For example, what will happen to your assets if something happens to one or both of you? Would your spouse receive your insurance policy payout? And how do you protect a blended family with children born outside the marriage?
We recommend starting by sitting down with an experienced attorney and having a will prepared. This legal document will specify where you want certain assets to go upon your and/or your spouse’s death, among other things. You’ll also want to discuss who will be named as beneficiary on important policies like life insurance and 401(k) accounts. And lastly, consider assigning Powers of Attorney, allowing another to make decisions on your behalf should something happen to one or both of you.
With an upcoming wedding, there’s a lot to think about. Finances, taxes, insurance, and wills may not feel like a top priority at the moment, but getting these important topics teased out now can relieve a lot of stress later. At BB&C, we have the expertise to handle all your pre-marital legal needs from wills and estate planning to prenups. With so much to think about, why not let a trusted expert help you with the tough stuff? Call (765) 637-9176 to get the conversation started.
The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.