Going into a marriage, it is crucial to discuss your current finances and financial priorities in order to better align on a joint strategy.
Potential Direct Financial Impact
- Expenses related to the upcoming wedding and/or honeymoon.
- Legal fees associated with setting up a pre-nuptial agreement or trusts.
- Any tax implications from changing tax-filing status from single to married filing jointly.
- Costs associated with securing life insurance coverage.
- Potential financial planning fees to create a joint financial plan and roadmap.
Potential Secondary Impacts
- Decision on whether to merge finances fully, partially, or not at all.
- Agreement on how to divide household expenses (if both spouses work).
- Alignment on financial priorities and goal contributions.
- Decision to open any joint account(s) and/or maintain separate accounts.
- Potential reallocation of cash flow and/or assets if merging finances together.
- Re-titling of accounts, credit cards, ID cards, etc. if changing surname.
- Higher fixed costs and moving fees if relocating to a larger place or buying a home.
- Stresses related to any potential discrepancies in income, assets, or household duties.
Self Completion/Execution Risks
- Avoiding conversations about money and then being surprised by your spouses financial situation (ie. debt or credit score)
- Getting married without setting up a pre-nuptial agreement if there’s an inequality in income and assets.
- Not being intentional about how you merge finances and/or split household expenses.
- Not having a financial plan or long-term approach to your finances.
- Losing any existing income based repayment (IBR) status and potential forgiveness on student loans if you file married filing jointly (instead of married filing separately) if the partner making less no longer qualifies based on your joint household income.
- Jeopardizing separate property status by commingling assets held in separate property accounts or trusts.
- Not being aware of important community property vs. common law state considerations.
Situations where expertise adds the most value
- Tax Adviser
Consulting a tax adviser any time you have a major life event (get married, have a baby etc.) is advisable to ensure that you’re withholding enough taxes based on your new tax filing status, reducing your taxable income as much as possible using tax advantaged accounts, and maximizing all potential deductions.
- Legal Adviser
If you live in a community property state and/or there’s a significant differential between you and your spouse in terms of income or assets, working with a trust and estates attorney can be prudent to set up a prenuptial agreement, to understand how to maintain any separate property status on a existing assets or inheritance like a trust, and to establish trusts as part of an estate plan for future generations.
- Financial Adviser
Working with a financial adviser can be particularly valuable as you consider the best approach to manage your finances together as a couple and decide whether to merge your accounts or keep them separate. As part of this process, your planner can serve as an objective third party to help you evaluate tradeoffs to align your spending and savings priorities based on your values. Your planner can also help you put a long-term financial roadmap in place to work toward your financial goals.
- Tax Adviser