Congrats! You Got Married, Now What The Hell Do You Do?

Wedding Photography by Terralogical

Congratulations! You’ve tied the knot!

Now that you’ve said “I do,” it’s time to truly become partners in life.

Marriage binds your lives together. The act of getting married, while very romantic, has immediate impacts on both your financial situation and legal matters.

My husband and I eloped in November of 2016 and I was so overwhelmed with all the things I needed to do to make our marriage “official”.

In this blog post, I’m going to cover some of the basic tasks to handle after you get married, including changing your name, enrolling in jewelry insurance, changing your health care and signing up for life insurance as well as more sensitive financial and legal matters.

I know all this stuff is super stressful, especially after your wedding. Read on for a few quick tips for what to do after you walk down the aisle.

How To Change Your Name After You Get Married

Let’s begin with the first thing many couples do after their wedding festivities settle down: the name change. If you or your spouse are planning on taking a new name, do it prior to filling out any additional forms to avoid a major headache. If you’re not changing your name, skip this section.

  1. Obtain certified copies of your marriage certificate. You may need to pay for certified copies of your marriage certified, and I recommend getting several copies to have on hand for proof of marriage.
  2. Check with your local government offices to find out if you need to file anything with the court prior to your name change. For example, in some states, a judge must approve your name change.
  3. Visit your local Social Security office with your marriage certificate to change your Social Security card. I went to the social security office the day after we got back from our honeymoon.
  4. Visit your local driver’s licensing office with your new Social Security card for a new driver’s license. I got a temporary Social Security card and was able to change my name with that and our certified copy of our marriage certificate.
  5. Visit your local bank with your new driver’s license and marriage certificate to update your bank account. They will change the name on your account and issue you new cards.
  6. Once you’ve changed your social security card and driver’s license, everything else should be fairly easy.
  7. Now you can change your name on any account you have: Car Registration/Insurance, Amazon, Nordstrom, Phone, Credit Cards, bscription services, etc.

Enroll in Engagement Ring Insurance

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you sign up for jewelry insurance for your engagement and wedding rings. It’s devastating to have jewelry that represents special moments in your life get damaged, lost or stolen, but having protection ensures you can repair or replace it. Many people think that fine jewelry and engagement rings will be covered by a generic home insurance policy, but this isn’t typically the case. Have your diamond jewelry appraised and find an insurance policy that best protects it at a reasonable price.

Change Your Health Insurance

You may choose to stay on separate health plans after marriage, or you can compare health coverage to decide if you’d rather move to one central health plan.

Generally, in the United States, you can only change your health plan during open enrollment, which runs from November through February (exact dates vary by year). 🙄🙄🙄

However, marriage is considered a “qualifying event,” which means you can change your health plan within 30 to 60 days of marriage (the exact timeframe depends on your plan). If you miss that deadline, you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment period to make changes to your plan. It’s important to note that deductibles often double when another person is added to a plan.

Additionally, even if you don’t decide to change plans, you’ll want to report your change in marital status, as well as your name change, to your insurer.

Sign Up For Life Insurance

Of all the things to think about in the buildup or following a wedding, life insurance is probably not at the top of your list. You might both be young and think that getting life insurance should wait for kids; however, right after you are married is one of the best times to get life insurance.

Most of us try to “look our best” for our wedding, so it’s more than likely you will be in the best shape you will ever be in your life. Why not carry this good feeling over when you need to get a physical for life insurance? Plus, this will get you the best rate for a long term policy. The earlier you buy a policy and lock in life insurance rates, the more money you’ll save over the long run.

These are not the most romantic tasks to take care of when your honeymoon is over, but insurers may offer lower rates to married couples, who statistically show that they behave more cautiously than singles and file fewer claims. As with everything involving major life changes, be sure to do your research before making any major decisions; the great thing is that you now have a partner to help you!

Create a Joint Bank Account and/or Joint Credit Account

For many couples, creating a joint checking account or joint credit card account serves as a symbolic gesture, showing the union of two people into partnership. Furthermore, if you’re planning on buying a house or another large purchase, having joint accounts can make things much easier, since you can pool your incomes and build credit faster. Having all of your money in one place can also make tracking expenses much simpler.

Divide Your Monthly Expenses

Whether you’re planning on creating joint banking accounts or maintaining separate accounts, it’s really up to you. But that said, I think it’s important to come up with a fair and reasonable plan for paying monthly and annual expenses.

If you will have a shared central account, this is pretty straightforward, since you can simply use your pooled money as needed.

If you plan to maintain separate banking accounts, it would be helpful to divide up things like rent/mortgage, loans and other bills. If there is a large monthly expense in one person’s name, you may wish to set up an automatic monthly transfer to their account. For example, my husband and I split our rent, he pays for utilities, I handle our groceries and cleaning, and he pays when we go out for food.

However you decide to share your expenses, make sure you are both clear about who is responsible for what. If you’re the kind of people that like spreadsheets or lists, sit down together and divide and conquer.

File Your Taxes

The IRS identifies you as married for the entire year if you tie the knot before December 31st. Now that you’re married, you have the option to file in a few different ways: married filing taxes separately or married filing taxes jointly.

The IRS acknowledges your marriage by providing a marriage penalty or bonus. A couple suffers a “marriage penalty” if its partners pay more income tax as a married couple than they would have as two single individuals. Conversely, the couple receives a “marriage bonus” if its partners pay less income tax as a married couple than they would have as two single individuals.

Set Up Your Retirement Savings Accounts

First of all, if your employer offers 401k benefits, make sure to sign up. It’s literally never too early to plan for the future. Try to select the highest percentage of matching that your employer offers. Signing up early on ensures that your money will start vesting and you will have more saved by the time you do retire. If your employer does not offer a retirement package, talk to a financial advisor to set up an independent account. There are also a wide range of free financial calculators online to help you calculate how much you should be contributing each month.

Start Investing Stocks

Ugh, this feels so ADULT. I still don’t really get it. Choose individual stocks and funds that reflect your goals and beliefs. Then buy and hold. Investing is a long-term game.

Stash makes it really easy—if you want to buy $5 of single stock that costs $100 per share, Stash can buy a full share, and have you own just a $5 fraction of that share. You can make small investments as a way to get started, then you can invest in a more flexible way, and you can put more of your money to work.

Draft Your Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is a legal document that dictates what happens to you, your possessions and assets after you pass away. This document also outlines your wishes regarding medical care in the event you cannot communicate directly, due to severe injury or illness. In a living will, you can specify exactly what medical treatments you would accept or refuse in various circumstances.

Though this is certainly not a “romantic” conversation, you need to have this discussion and prioritize making a will. It’s recommended that you meet with an attorney to help you write your will and ensure that the document meets state requirements. It’ll cost a little upfront, but will save time and reduce stress in the long run.

Lastly, regular discussions with your spouse about finances (or sensitive matters like your will) can help alleviate any stress that may arise. Setting up financial goals towards large expenses like a house or future vacations can help make this process easier and more fun. Most importantly, don’t forget to relax and enjoy this time together right after your wedding.

Last And Most Importantly: LOVE EACH OTHER

Laugh at each other, hold hands, go on dates, pretend every kiss is your first kiss, say please and thank you, do the dishes, take out the trash together, and remember YOU’RE ON THE SAME TEAM. Marriage is amazing. You have someone on your side who has your back, no questions asked. But it’s also really hard. You will grow together and apart, and that’s okay. Just keep doing it (pun intended).

More Resources To Help After You Get Married

Comparing Wills, Trusts, Living Wills, and Power of Attorney

7 Tax Advantages of Getting Married

How Getting Married Changes Your Finances

General Financial Management

Retirement Calculator – How Much Should You Save For Retirement?

Marriage Tax Calculator – Do You Get A Marriage Tax Break or Penalty?

8 Things Every Couple Should Consider Before Setting Up A Joint Bank Account

8 Strategies to Start A College Savings Fund

Author: Becca Risa Luna

Seattle-based fashion writer and personal essayist. Likes designer handbags, glaring openness, and subtle vulgarity.

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