When it comes to financial planning, marriage is like any other major life event, and it should be handled with the same level of orderliness and responsibility. Here is pre-wedding financial checklist to consider:
* Decide on a marital regime. Choose a marital regime that is suited to you and your spouse, after understanding the three available options.
If you’re married in community of property, your assets are combined in a joint estate. Getting married out of community of property means that all the assets are kept completely separate throughout the marriage.
With marriage out of community of property with accrual, what each of you came in with remains separate, and only the assets accumulated during the marriage are shared. This third route tends to be popular, as it is widely viewed as being the “fairest” option.
* Draw up a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is required if you are married out of community of property or out of community of property with accrual. This is a legal document that lays out the division of assets if the marriage ends.
A prenup should not be seen as “planning for failure”, but as a safety measure. If everything goes well, it is merely a piece of paper that you will never have to use, but if things don’t go to plan, it will make matters a lot less complicated.
* Consolidate all policies and benefits. While some couples want to keep a sense of financial independence, when it comes to policies and benefit schemes, it makes financial sense to consolidate. This comes down to simple economy of scale and avoiding the unnecessary duplication of policies. After all, you don’t want to be paying twice for the same benefit, or paying more than you need to when it comes to insurance and medical scheme cover.
* Update your beneficiaries. As getting married has a major impact on so many aspects of your life, it is a good time to check that all the beneficiaries listed on your current policies are up to date.
In addition to ensuring that all existing information is accurate, you’ll probably want to add your new spouse as a beneficiary if he or she isn’t one already. If you’ve never had a reason to get life insurance before, this may also be a good time to consider that.
* Put all your cards on the table. Full financial disclosure and open communication is vital when entering into a marriage.
When joining two lives together, no matter how you slice and dice it, financial fairness depends on what works best for you and your spouse, so honesty and transparency is key.
As this can be a tricky and overwhelming subject to approach objectively, working with a financial adviser may help to ensure mutual awareness and understanding of the various financial complexities around marriage. Tackling these hard-hitting issues head on will create a solid financial foundation that will stand your marriage in good stead for the future.
Larry Masson is a financial adviser at Momentum Consult.