February 15, 2005
First comes love, then comes marriage. Then comes divorce and the blush of a new love, marriage again, and the host of financial issues that plague most couples the first and second (and Elizabeth Taylor-like eighth and ninth) time around.
There are certainly a lot of financial advantages to being married. (Here are five!) But there can also be many more complexities with your happy new union. Taking on the role of Dr. Phil is Consumer Reports, which offers some sound financial guidance for couples who remarry:
- Disclose your finances to each other. (Yes, even that five-figure amount you owe to Mr. MasterCard.)
- Complete a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to identify the assets each of you is bringing to the marriage. It should also spell out who gets what, should your starry-eyed love flicker out or if one partner -- gulp -- dies.
- Set up a new family budget and determine how you'll pay your joint expenses.
- Decide how to title your joint assets. After all, you don't want your ex laying claim to your stuff at an inopportune time.
- Develop a new estate plan, including new wills, durable powers of attorney, living wills, health-care proxies, and trusts.
- Adjust your dependency exemption on your tax withholding and review your insurance coverage to make sure you have the proper life and disability coverage for additional dependents.
If you've decided to forgo the pricey diamond and tulle gown and simply shack up together in unwedded bliss, facing these issues is even more important. Though many of the same estate planning and medical directive rights are available to unmarried couples, the difference is they don't happen automatically. You've got to fill out the paperwork to make your wishes recognized in the eyes of the law.