Complete List of Things that You Need to Update When You Get Married
by Kaitlyn Ranze
So, you’re getting married! Congratulations! Now comes the fun part: getting all your ducks in a row and ensuring everything is updated.
Here’s a complete rundown of everything that changes once you get hitched.
First and foremost, are you updating your name?
Everything gets a little more complicated if you or your spouse changes their name.
The pros and cons of changing your name when you get married
There are a lot of things to consider when you get married. One of the big decisions is whether or not to change your last name. Both options have pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh them before deciding.
If you’re thinking about keeping your maiden name, one of the greatest advantages is that you won’t have to deal with changing your name on all your documents and accounts. Whether you’re taking your partner’s last name, hyphenating, or just going by your middle name, you’ll need to head to the courthouse to update your driver’s license, passport, social security card, marriage certificate, and other required official documents. It can be a real pain to change your name, so if you’re not entirely sure that you want to do it, it’s probably best to stick with your maiden name.
Another advantage of keeping your maiden name is that it can be an excellent way to keep your professional identity separate from your personal life. If you’re known by your maiden name in your career, it can be beneficial to keep it for that reason.
However, there are also some disadvantages to keeping your maiden name. One of them is that it can be confusing for people who are not familiar with your situation. If you have children with your spouse, whose last name will the kids have?
There’s no right or wrong answer, so do what feels best for you and your new family.
When you move in after getting married
Before you start packing your boxes, there are some things you need to take care of first. Here are a few pro-tips to prepare for the big move:
First, figure out who will be responsible for which bills. Who’s going to pay the rent? The utilities? The cable bill? Make sure you’re on the same page financially before you move in together.
Next, start thinking about furniture. Who will bring what? Are you going to buy new furniture or use what you have? If you’re buying new furniture, confirm you’re both on the same page about style and budget. As a hippy who married an engineer, I definitely recommend an open conversation about this.
Another important thing to consider is your living space. How much space do you have? Do you work remotely or go to the office? Do you need to downsize or declutter before you move in together? Make sure you’re both comfortable with the amount of space you have.
Also, start talking about your expectations. What are your expectations for the relationship? What are your expectations for living together? Make sure you’re both on the same page about your expectations for lifestyle and future plans.
Lastly, it’s time to get started on the things that impact your money: bills, bank accounts, and work.
The last thing you want to consider during wedding planning is the practicalities. But when it comes to your finances, it’s crucial to take a step back and confirm you’re on the same page as your spouse-to-be.
Here’s a checklist of bills you need to update when you get married:
1. Credit cards
Aside from updating your name and address after marriage, it might be time to reassess your credit situation, particularly your credit cards.
Look, your interest rates might be killing one partner more than another, especially regarding credit cards and high-interest debt. If you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship and open a joint credit card, let’s weigh the pros and cons of sharing a credit card with your partner.
You can build up your credit history together. Also, pooling your resources allows you to obtain a higher credit limit while earning rewards points faster. Lastly, it’s easier to help each other out if one of you has a bad month.
You’re both responsible for the debt, so if one of you can’t pay, the other is on the hook. It can be hard to track expenses when you’re sharing a card. You may not have the same spending habits, leading to arguments. You’ll have to close the account and split the debt if your relationship ends.
2. Cable subscription
Like most people, you’re probably underestimating how much you pay annually for subscriptions.
Consumers’ offhand guess of how much they spend monthly on subscriptions averaged $86, according to a survey commissioned by market research firm C+R Research. Yet when asked about subscriptions in specific categories, the actual amount was $219 on average — $133 more than estimated.
Getting married is the perfect opportunity to audit your streaming services and cable subscriptions to cut some expenses.
3. Cell phone plan
If you made it down the aisle, you know that communication is key. But what if we told you that you could also save money on your cell phone bill by being on the same plan as your partner?
Here’s how it works: most cell phone plans offer discounts for couples or family members on the same plan. Other strategies for saving on your cell phone bills after you get married?
Take advantage of other discounts
Many cell phone companies offer discounts for employees of certain companies or organizations. If you or your partner work for a company that offers a discount, take advantage of it. You could save a significant amount of money every month.
The first step to saving money is to share everything – your data, your minutes, your texts. By sharing a plan, you and your partner can split the costs and save some serious cash.
When it’s time to renew your contract, take the time to shop around and compare plans. New deals and offers are always available, so it pays to do your research before you commit to a new plan.
4. Utility bills
We’ve talked a lot about how to save money on your utilities. Once you get married, update your utility bills (electricity, water, gas, etc.) to include your spouse as a bill payer.
5. Your employer (and their paperwork)
Here’s a list of forms you’ll need to update with your HR department once you tie the knot.
Your tax forms: Make sure your W-4 is up to date so you’re not over or underpaying your taxes.
This means you can choose to take your spouse’s plan, add your spouse to your plan, or switch over to a plan provided by the marketplace. Also, you’ll need to update your policy to reflect your new marital status for employer-sponsored insurance, whether it’s health, disability, life, or other types of insurance.
Other things you’ll need to update at work:
Your beneficiaries: If you have any benefits through your job (like a 401k), designate your spouse as the primary beneficiary.
Your emergency contact: In the event of an emergency, your HR department will need to know who to contact. Make sure you update your emergency contact information to include your spouse.
6. Private health insurance policies
Update your insurance policies (health, auto, homeowners or renters, life) to include your spouse as a covered party.
This includes any benefits you have with your employer.
7. Student loans
You’ll need to update your contact information and billing address if you have student loans. Contact your loan servicer and let them know that you’re married. They’ll likely require some documentation, such as a marriage certificate. Once they have that information, they’ll be able to update your account accordingly.
8. Mortgage Company or Rental Company
Make sure to update your mortgage paperwork to reflect that you are now married.
Here’s why: when you get married, your financial situation changes. And while your mortgage company might not be the first place you think of when it comes to updating your financial information, they need to be in the loop.
Why? Because your home secures your mortgage loan. If something happens to your financial situation – like, say, you get divorced – it could impact your ability to make your monthly payments.
So, if you’re getting married (or are already married), it’s wise to update your mortgage company with your new marital status. It’s also the responsible thing to do, potentially saving you from headache (and heartache) down the road.
9. Tax returns
When you get married, there are many things to think about – the dress, the cake, the venue. But we often overlook taxes.
That’s right, getting hitched can greatly impact your tax situation. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
If your spouse has access to your checking account, they can easily see all of your transactions. This includes any purchases you make online or over the phone. If your spouse is the one who handles the finances, they can also see your credit card statements.
Marital partners can help you keep track of your spending.
If you have a joint account with your spouse, you’ll be able to see exactly where your money is going. This can help you keep track of your spending and make sure that you’re on the same page financially.
Joint accounts will help you manage your finances together.
Benefit from seeing exactly where your money is going and where it’s coming from. Combine this with open conversations about money to ensure you’re on the same page financially.
11. Investment accounts
Update your investment accounts (401k, IRA, etc.) to reflect your new marital status.
When you tie the knot, it’s not just your last name that changes; your whole financial life changes too. And that includes your investment accounts.
Like most people, you’ve probably let your investment accounts sit untouched for years. But now that you’re married, it’s time to take a fresh look at them and double-check their alignment with your goals.
Here are a couple of reasons why you need to update your investment accounts when you get married:
Your financial situation has changed
When you’re single, your financial situation is entirely your own. But once you’re married, your spouse’s finances intertwine with yours. Your investment strategy should account for both of your incomes, debts, and expenses.
Your goals have changed
When you’re single, your investment goals may focus on things like retirement or buying a home. Once married, your goals may shift to include saving for your children’s education or building a joint nest egg.
No matter your goals, it’s important to ensure your investment strategy aligns with them.
12. Estate plan
Finally, you’ll need to update your will and other essential aspects of your estate plan.
Here’s a short list of things to update in your estate plan when you get married:
If you’ve been living life as a single person up until now, your will likely reflects that. Once you’re married, updating your will to reflect your new marital status will ensure your spouse is taken care of in the event of your death.
Your power of attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you’re unable to do so yourself. If you’re married, you’ll want to designate your spouse as your power of attorney so they can make decisions for you if you’re ever incapacitated.
A health care directive, also known as a living will, is a document that outlines your wishes for medical treatment in the event that you’re unable to communicate them yourself. If you’re married, you’ll want to make sure your spouse is aware of your wishes and has the legal authority to carry them out.
Your estate planning documents
You may have a prenuptial agreement if you’ve been married before. If not, you’ll need to create one. A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that outlines how your assets will be divided in the event of a divorce.
If you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, your state’s laws will determine how your assets are divided in the event of a divorce. In most states, assets acquired during a marriage are considered marital property and are subject to equitable distribution. This means that your assets will be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between you and your spouse in the event of a divorce.
Additionally, if you have children who are still minors from a previous relationship, you’ll need to designate a guardian for them in your estate planning documents. A guardian is someone who will be responsible for taking care of your children in the event that you’re unable to do so yourself.
Making these changes to your estate planning documents may seem like a lot of work, but it’s essential to ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of your death or incapacity. By taking the time to update your estate plan, you can rest easy knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of should something happen to you.
So there you have it! A complete rundown of everything that changes once you get married. Now go forth and enjoy that newlywed life!