Marriage changes everything about your finances as you’ve not only tied the knot, you’ve tied your financial life to someone else as well. While some decisions might be dictated by law (i.e., next of kin on your retirement account) there are other decisions that will need to be made.
- Single or joint – Do you want to combine some or any of your accounts? Would you prefer to keep separate savings accounts with a joint checking account? Would you like to keep it all separate? Or would you like to throw it all in together?
- Bills – How will the household bills be divided? Is it one half of the bill each? Will one of you pay the cable and the other the telephone? Will you switch off bills each month?
- Credit – Do you want to add your partner to your credit cards? Do you want to be added to his? Would you prefer to sign up for new credit cards together? Or would you prefer to keep credit as separate as possible?
- Loans – Will you be refinancing your house to include him on the mortgage? If so, be sure to have a separate document indicating how much each of you is putting forth as both an initial payment and for monthly payments.
- Power of attorney – Do you want to give your partner power of attorney over the accounts he’s not on? Be forewarned, if someone has power of attorney they can clean out your accounts and the bank isn’t required to notify you.
- Next of kin – Do you want to list your partner as your next of kin on your financial accounts and your life insurance? Would you prefer to keep it a blood relative?
- Health insurance – Are you putting your partner on your health insurance or are you switching to his? Would you prefer to keep your health insurance separate because your maternity benefits are better?
- Life insurance – Do you want term or whole life insurance? Who will be paying for it?
- Retirement plans – How much will each of you be contributing to your retirement plan per year? Are you maxing out your contribution?
Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s a start. Get your discussions about finance out in the open as soon as possible to avoid conflict. Remember, you’re in this together so talk through any problems.