Get expert financial planning tips and get your marriage off on the right financial foot
Let’s talk about money, honey! While it can be an awkward and vulnerable experience, having an open financial dialogue with your partner is critical for a successful relationship and future. After all, fighting about money has led to the downfall of many relationships. According to a 2015 SunTrust study, among those surveyed who indicated that they have relationship stress, finances top the list of reasons with 35 percent saying that finances are the primary cause.
You may find it easier and more productive to use a financial advisor to help guide you through these conversations with your partner. We previously published the first part of this blog topic on the Summit Brokerage Blog (click here to read the blog), touching on the following financial planning tips for engaged couples:
- Full disclosure
- To prenup or not to prenup?
- Discuss your short-term and long-term financial goals
- Joint or separate banking accounts?
Here are some additional financial planning tips for engaged couples:
Considering making or updating your estate plan with updated beneficiary designations.
An estate plan typically includes but is not limited to important legal and financial documents such as: will, durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will, revocable living trust, and funeral/burial instructions. If you already have an estate plan, work with your estate planning attorney to update your estate planning documents to reflect your change in marital status. If you don’t currently have an estate plan, strongly consider working with an estate planning attorney to create one. Estate plans are not just for the old and wealthy.
If you become incapacitated or die without an estate plan, you and your property could end up in a court-supervised legal guardianship and your family, spouse, and other loved ones may end up in long and expensive probate court litigation. If you are getting married and want your spouse to be your beneficiary, make sure you update your beneficiary designations to reflect this for your retirement accounts (i.e., 401(k)s, IRAs, Roth IRAs, and etc.), life insurance policies, annuities, and other contracts and accounts with beneficiary designations.
Know the tax implications of getting married.
As a married couple, you have two choices for your tax filing status: married filing separately or married filing jointly. There are both advantages and disadvantages to both of these filing statuses. Generally speaking, married filing jointly provides the most favorable tax outcome to couples; however, be aware that when your tax filing status is married filing jointly, each spouse can be liable for the other spouse’s tax issues such as tax underpayments, interest, and penalties caused by a spouse’s deliberate tax misdeeds or unintentional tax errors or omissions. Even if you get divorced, you can still be on the hook for your former spouse’s tax issues.
As a married couple, you be may be eligible for the powerful tax benefit known as the unlimited marital deduction, which allows assets to be transferred to a surviving spouse without having to pay taxes on the transferred asset. Also, when it comes to the federal gift tax exclusion, married couples can get more bang for the buck. Individual spouses can each gift up to $14,000 to the same donee and still stay within the annual gift tax exclusion threshold. However, as a married couple, you get to combine this exclusion threshold. Together, as a married couple, you can gift $28,000 to each donee and still stay within the annual gift tax exclusion threshold. Before filing your income tax return as a married couple, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a tax professional regarding the tax implications of your change in marital status.
Review your employer-provided benefits regarding your marriage/spouse.
If you’ve gotten married or plan on getting married, you will want to alert your employer’s human resource department of your change in marital status and request information on your employer-provided benefits. With many employer-provided benefits, you only have a 30-day window after major life events such as marriage to make any changes to your benefits. Work with your human resources department and your spouse to determine what your best options are. For example, it may be beneficial to have one spouse added to the other spouse’s employer-provided health insurance plan. Also review and update your beneficiary designation on any employer-provided life insurance policies, pensions, and retirement accounts.
Review your insurance policies.
Marriage is a major life event that warrants reviewing and possibly changing or updating your various insurance policies. You’re going to want to review the declaration pages for your various insurance policies including but not limited to your home, auto, personal effects, umbrella, and rental policies. In many cases, you may be able to combine your policy and save money on premiums. For example, unless one spouse has a poor driving record, you may be able to save money by shifting to a single-car insurance policy with both spouses listed as drivers. Depending on where you live, doing so may earn you a multi-car discount. Also, if you have expensive wedding rings, you may want to consider getting these valuable pieces of personal property insured. As already discussed in this blog, you will also want to review and/or update your life insurance and health insurance policies and beneficiary designations to reflect your change in marital status.
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About Summit Brokerage Services, Inc.
Summit Brokerage Services is part of Cetera Financial Group. Summit Brokerage provides a broad range of securities brokerage and investment services to primarily individual investors. Summit Brokerage also sells insurance products, predominantly fixed and variable annuities and life insurance through its subsidiary, SBS Insurance Agency of Florida. Summit Brokerage also provides asset management services through its investment advisor, Summit Financial Group, Inc.
About Cetera Financial Group
Cetera Financial Group® (“Cetera”) is a leading network of independent retail broker-dealers empowering the delivery of objective financial planning advice to individuals, families and company retirement plans across the country through trusted financial advisors and financial institutions. Cetera is the second-largest independent financial advisor network in the nation by number of advisors, as well as a leading provider of retail services to the investment programs of banks and credit unions.
Through its multiple distinct firms, Cetera offers independent and institutions-based advisors the benefits of a large, established broker-dealer and registered investment adviser, while serving advisors and institutions in a way that is customized to their needs and aspirations. Advisor support resources offered through Cetera include award-winning wealth management and financial planning and advisory platforms, comprehensive broker-dealer and registered investment adviser services, practice management support and innovative technology. For more information, visit www.ceterafinancialgroup.com.
*”Cetera Financial Group” refers to the network of retail independent broker-dealers encompassing, among others, Cetera Advisors, Cetera Advisor Networks, Cetera Financial Institutions, Cetera Financial Specialists, First Allied Securities, Girard Securities, The Legend Group and Summit Brokerage Services.