Merging lives and money.
Financial tips for couples marrying later in life.
Getting married is one of life’s most significant milestones. A wedding is a joyous occasion, one that you are sure to remember for the rest of your life.
For some couples—particularly those who are young—merging two lives is easy. That’s because they generally have few assets or ties, and are flexible when it comes to their lifestyles and careers.
But for those who marry later in life, things can be a bit more complicated. By the time they reach their 30s and 40s, many people have built up substantial assets, have significant ties to their communities, and are well entrenched in their careers. Some may even have children from previous relationships.
If you and your soon-to-be-spouse fall into the second category, there are a number of important financial issues that you may want to discuss before tying the knot. Let’s take a look at just a few:
- Your place or mine? If you both own property, you’ll need to decide which—if either—best meets your needs. Is one property larger than the other, closer to work, or in a better school district? If so, you may want to keep it and rent or sell the other. In many cases, however, it may be easier on the relationship to sell both properties and start fresh.
- Should we comingle assets? As a general rule, you usually want to keep the assets you bring to the relationship separate, and then build assets together as you move on. This is especially true if you have children from a previous marriage, or have inherited assets that you want to remain in your family in the event of your death or divorce.
- Should we comingle debt? In most cases, no. If one person enters the relationship with a substantial amount of debt, it's usually better to keep the other person's credit rating as high as possible.
- Who will handle the finances? Since you’re both accustomed to managing you own money, you may want to divide responsibilities. For example, one of you could be in charge of paying bills, while the other is responsible for managing savings and investments. No matter what you decide, make sure the lines of communication stay open.
- Do we need an estate plan? While estate plans are always important, they are even more so in this case. Make sure your wills, durable powers of attorney, and other legal documents are revised and clearly spell out your intentions. Update the beneficiaries on your life insurance, annuities, IRAs, 401(k)s, health savings accounts, and/or any other employer-sponsored benefits. If children are involved, you may want to consult a trust attorney to make sure that their future education and interests are protected.
There are a host of financial issues to consider when getting married—and this just scratches the surface. If you’d like more information, or would like to speak with a New York Life agent about ways to protect your family and assets, please let us know.
This article is for informational purposes only. Neither New York Life nor its agents provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional before taking any action.