Wedding season is upon us. September and October are typically the most popular months to tie the knot. And despite the pandemic still raging in many parts of the country, the wedding industry is forecasting a temporary boost in revenue, with the number of fall weddings scheduled already close to pre-pandemic levels for now.
Many engaged couples and their families are remaining hopeful and cautiously planning for their big day. Whether you’re preparing for a wedding celebration now or later, it’s important to remember the administrative tasks to address when you say, “I do.”
Housekeeping chores for name changes
The majority of pre-marital tasks relate to taking your spouse’s name or vice versa. If your name is changing, here’s the protocol after you’re legally wed:
- Visit your local SSA office. Notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) after you’re married to protect Social Security benefits and credit ratings. To get a new Social Security card, you need to complete an application and provide proof of identification with your old and new names, such as a driver’s license and a marriage certificate. If you were born outside the United States, you’ll also need proof that you’re a citizen or legally in the country. Keep in mind, the SSA doesn’t accept photocopies, notarized copies or your old Social Security card as evidence of identity.
- Update IRS records. The SSA informs the IRS about name changes, and the tax agency’s records are generally updated 10 days later. If you don’t notify the SSA and file a tax return with your new married name, IRS computers won’t be able to match the new name with the Social Security number.
- Spread the word. Once your name is officially changed with the SSA, share the good news with everyone else. To avoid confusion, also be sure to update your driver’s license, passport, tax records, voter registration, vehicle registration, utility records, retirement plans and more.
When you get back to work, consult your company’s HR department to evaluate how your change in marital status affects your benefits options. For example, you might save money by eliminating duplicate healthcare or life insurance coverage.
Joining your finances
Are you combining your savings, checking and credit card accounts into one? Even if you decide to maintain separate accounts, it may be helpful to have at least one joint account to pay for shared expenses, such as rent, mortgage costs, household expenses or childcare.
A joint account can also help avoid trouble in certain situations. When a spouse or common law partner dies and there are separate accounts, the survivor will be excluded from the separate account if the estate goes into probate. That could take months. CPAs often help newlyweds establish joint financial goals, including annual budgets and contingency plans in case a spouse passes away, becomes disabled or gets laid off.
Managing legal matters
From a legal perspective, you’ll need to update deeds, wills and power of attorney documents. Your attorney can also discuss the full array of estate planning tools, such as various trusts, that might be relevant now that you’re married.
People who have been previously married bring additional financial issues to the table, especially if there are children, alimony payments and child support involved.
- Do you have business debts or obligations with your former spouse?
- Are you required to keep a former spouse on your insurance?
- Does a former spouse have a claim on your employer-sponsored retirement account?
- If you’re entitled to assets from a former spouse (for example, an inheritance or other financial interest) will your remarriage end that entitlement?
Marriage is a celebration — but it also involves a lot of paperwork. Don’t let administrative chores prevent you from living happily ever after. Contact the CPAs at Magone & Company at (973) 301-2300 to help tackle the critical tasks head on.