Are you thinking about getting married? Before you walk down that aisle or open that joint bank account, let’s take a look at what you need to sit down and discuss with your future spouse. Don’t let your wedding ring become a boxing ring over money.
Fully Disclose all Assets and Liabilities
If you’re about to enter into a lifelong commitment, you’ll need to fully disclose all your current finances as well as your financial history. What do you own? How much do you earn? How much money is in the bank? What are your assets? What are your outstanding debts? What does your credit history report? What is your current credit score? Answer these questions together once plans to build a life together are in the works. You don’t want any secrets or snags to come back to haunt you once you’ve walked down the aisle. If you’re not as well off as you’ve built yourself up to be, if you have liens on various properties, or if you’ve ever declared bankruptcy, come clean to your partner upfront to avoid uncomfortable scenarios after your nuptials.
Go Over Credit Scores and Reports
Your future spouse should know about your credit history, including all debts, loans, foreclosures, bankruptcies, and even paid-off credit cards. Whatever the state of your credit, be honest and transparent. If one of you has less-than-stellar credit, you’ll be able to make an educated plan about credit decisions as a couple going forward. If your future spouse has poor credit, the good news is that you can take steps to protect your own. However, it will affect how you make financial decisions in the future. Discussing your credit with your future spouse will negate headaches down the road as poor credit history might negatively affect any future loans eligibility and interest rates. Do you finance a home in only one spouse’s name? What is the plan for paying off large debts such as significant credit card balances, student loans, or even IRS debt acquired before you marry? Your partner needs to know what you’re bringing to the table before you walk down the aisle.
Decide if You Want a Prenuptial Agreement
Now is the time to decide whether or not you’d like to sign a prenuptial agreement. These agreements are not just for the wealthy anymore. It is an extra level of protection should your marriage take a turn for the worse and provides security that the things you’ve worked so hard to obtain aren’t lost should the marriage erode. Tackling a prenuptial agreement is an uncomfortable conversation, but it will set the stage for complex discussions about money during your union. Better to have this conversation early than not at all.
According to this article on USNews.com, here are some reasons to draft a prenuptial agreement.
- You or your partner own or partially own a business.
- You or your partner hold considerable assets before marriage.
- You or your partner have had prior divorces.
- You or your partner have any children from a prior marriage or relationship.
- You or your partner own stakes in a family business or large family assets.
- You or your partner have considerable debt or have plans to incur more debt.
- Filing Taxes as a Married Couple
Discuss how you’d like to continue paying taxes as a married couple. Do you file jointly or married separately? What are the pros and cons of each? It might be more advantageous to file separately. However, the IRS does incentivize couples to file jointly by taking advantage of various tax breaks and lower rates. Speaking with a tax preparation professional, such as a CPA or an IRS enrolled agent, is the wise move. They’ll review each of your prior returns and advise what filing status is best for your specific situation. Now is also the time to ensure enough money is withheld by review exemptions and withholdings from your paychecks. When it comes to sorting your taxes, you’ll want to be on the right foot before you marry.
Set Financial Goals and Expectations
No matter the status of your finances, you’ll want to make goals and have a plan in place for how you’ll handle your money together. Define your expectations and be honest from the get-go. If you do these things, you’ll be on the right track to having a more financially secure future with the one you love.
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