Have you recently married, divorced, or lost a spouse? A change in marital status should prompt a review of financial matters, but at such a time it is easy to overlook the details. Here are a few reminders and suggestions.
Insurance coverage. When your marital status changes, review your insurance policies. Combining separately held health insurance policies with a spouse can result in savings and discounts. Most group health insurance policies allow spousal coverage. You may want to opt for coverage under your partner's policy if superior or less expensive coverage is offered. Married couples are often considered a better insurance risk, so together you may qualify for a lower rate. Also evaluate your need for disability or long-term care insurance.
Beneficiary designations. Review beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
Estate planning. Update choices that have become obsolete. Incomplete paperwork or inappropriate choices could mean your intended beneficiary may not end up with your assets. You should periodically review and update your existing will and other estate planning documents. This is especially important whenever your marital status changes. Before you get married, consider a prenuptial agreement if there are children from a prior marriage or if you own substantial assets.
Other documents. Review any other important documents. If you change or hyphenate your name, notify the Social Security Administration and Department of Motor Vehicles of your name change. Make copies of your estate papers and final divorce decree. Keep the originals in a safe place.
Tax planning. Your tax liability will likely change when you marry, divorce, or become a widow. Newlyweds may face higher taxes due to the so-called marriage penalty. In either case, you may need to change your income tax withholding or estimated tax payments.