Marriage – Your Personal Merger

By Laura Chiesman

If you are in the middle of planning a wedding you know all about checklists and budgets! The focus on this event is intense – where, when, who, how much, guest lists, photographers, food and so many details. You are probably also thinking about the first week, months or year of marriage –honeymoon, first home together, relocating if needed and other big decisions. These happy times are planned with precision and detail rivaling that of a corporate buyout! 

Marriage is the joining of two households and like a business merger information and planning makes all the difference.

Will you plan your marital finances with as much detail and care as your wedding? Whether this is a first marriage or second and regardless of your level of assets and complexity, there are financial and legal decisions to make that will kick your new joint venture off right.

It all starts with a conversation. You need to know about each other’s financial lives so that you are on the same page, understand each other’s strengths and areas for improvement. Then you can benchmark where you are now as a couple and begin to define your goals and start to plan. Work together, take a team approach. 

What does each person bring to this ‘business plan’ discussion? 

Finances:Starting with the facts is the first step: each of you will share information about your assets and savings, debts and income. Having this knowledge up front helps you begin to plan together. There are short term decisions, for example are you each going to maintain your own individual bank accounts and pay your own bills or use a joint account for all expenses? Depending on your situation there will be longer term issues which might include paying off debt, cleaning up credit, buying a home and planning for retirement. 

Legal:  Do you each have a will and other important estate documents? You will want to coordinate and update your estate documents and also consider the titling of your assets including investments, bank accounts and real estate. This can be pretty simple and there are also situations that require more focus to avoid later, unintended consequences. Examples of issues that would prompt you to spend the time and resources needed to do higher-level planning include significant assets, business ownership, marrying later in life, and one or both of you having children.  Discuss and plan now for things that will inevitably need to be dealt with later!

You are entering a new phase of life with all the excitement and anticipation that brings.

Take a moment, ok probably a few hours, to sit down together to share information and make some initial, basic decisions and plans. You can go deeper and develop full comprehensive plans later but getting a baseline set is a great first step. Don’t procrastinate on these early steps by waiting until you are more comfortable sharing with each other or until you have allthe information, moretime or moremoney. Just make a start!

Congratulations on this wonderful time of life! There are tools and resources that can help you make planning ahead a pleasant part of the journey. If you’d like a copy of a short checklist or would like to discuss your situation call or email our wealth services firm in Satellite Beach, FL – Melbourne/Brevard area at (321) 773-7773 or lchiesman@firstwavefinancial.com

You should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this publication serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from FirstWave Financial. A copy of the FirstWave’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.

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