Life changes (and the associated paperwork)
December 27, 2011 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Document checklist for a recently-married couple? What's crucial to get organized/updated in terms of legal/financial issues?

We decided, after being together for more than 8 years, to pull off a last-minute stealth commando wedding while the best man was in town for the holidays. Time to backtrack and fill in some Being Grownups blanks!

Taxes aren't a problem -- his are simple, mine aren't due to my business, so my accountant will get his W2 and all will be well there -- but what other documents should we be updating or creating other than...

1. Wills and living wills
2. Healthcare power of attorneys
3. Deed to the house (currently in his name only)
4. Updated beneficiary information on retirement accounts, insurance policies and bank accounts
5. ???

I don't plan to change my name at this time, we don't have children. We're in Ohio, if that matters.

We will consult with my lawyer and accountant on all of the above, but I want to make sure we have a "to-do" list worked out so we can read up on all of the appropriate issues and be well-informed going in. Thanks in advance for reminding us of things we may have forgotten!
posted by to Law & Government (6 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Congratulations to the two of you! My wife and I got married this past Labor Day so this is pretty fresh in my mind. Some other things you might want to consider include:

You might want to file a fictitious name certificate so you can deposit checks made out to Mrs. Hislastname; people will inevitably make checks out this way even though you're not changing your name, and it's a pain to go back to someone and have them rewrite the check. But then again, you might not need to: we have deposited checks made out to various combinations of her name and my name (including my first name with HER last name!) into my major-bank checking account without issue, despite the account being only in my name. Apparently they do not do much checking of endorsement signatures anymore.

If your wedding jewelry is valuable, get a personal items policy for it. (This should be a separate policy, not a rider on your homeowner's insurance -- you would hate for an insurance company to drop your homeowner's insurance policy because of jewelry claims.) Our jeweler recommended Chubb rather than the better known insurance companies, as many try hard to avoid paying out on jewelry claims. Indeed, there was a woman in the jewelry store one time we were getting our rings finalized who was having a devil of a time getting Allstate to give her enough money to replace her stolen ring.

If you both work, look at your health insurance through your two employers and figure out whether you want separate insurance or to put one of you on the others' insurance. Usually this will cost more, but if one of you has significantly better insurance than the other, it might still be worthwhile.

If you will have any difficulty paying the bills without his income, you should have life insurance on him (and vice versa). Go for term life insurance. Remember that the purpose of life insurance is to replace the income the insured would have earned had he not died, but don't forget retirement.
posted by kindall at 3:35 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Medical records should be amended to show each other as next of kin. You'll have far more rights that way.

Auto insurance policies. You may qualify for a discount since you're now married. In fact, it might be a good idea to call your insurance agent (as well as your lawyer and accountant) and ask him/her this same question.
posted by DrGail at 3:43 PM on December 27, 2011

Response by poster: Oooh, good one kindall -- did not even think of that re: fictitious name certificate (and I know all too well with my business that people often write things out to the wrong name...)

Good point on the insurance, DrGail, we're already on one policy but if there's a chance of further discount, that's worth exploring.

These are things I definitely hadn't thought of -- keep them coming, hive mind! thank you!
posted by at 4:07 PM on December 27, 2011

Best answer: Congratulations!

If you want to join each others' alumni societies, you probably can do so now. Similarly, if you have a membership to a zoo or museum, you can add each other much more easily.

You'll want to consider making out (or revising) your mental health declaration, especially if either of you have a diagnosis or a family history of mental illness. A durable springing financial power of attorney would also be something to consider - remember that a normal PoA stops working if you become incompetent to manage your own affairs.

If you haven't registered with the Ohio BMV's next of kin registry, do it now.

Make sure his employer knows about the change in your status, and file a revised W-4.

You might want to read this before talking to your attorney and accountant.

And make a bunch of photocopies of your marriage license - everyone will want one. The last of the employees I pay who got married, I needed four copies, and that was just for employer stuff - our health insurance, our life insurance, etc.
posted by SMPA at 4:12 PM on December 27, 2011

Best answer: If you want to add one of you to the other's employer-sponsored health insurance, you might have a limited time after your "qualifying event" to do it, so that should be at the top of your list.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:28 PM on December 27, 2011

Best answer: Another thing I just thought of: create a registry of passwords, etc. for each others' online accounts, especially e-mail and financial accounts. It should also include info that you commonly use as "hints" for password recovery, both your SSNs, etc. In the event of a death, you will be able to get into your spouse's accounts eventually since you are the spouse, but having that info handy will save you a lot of time and effort. This is especially important if one of you does most of the money handlin'.

There are some issues with writing all this stuff down (it's everything you need to steal both your identities, and difficult to keep up to date in paper form) so what I suggest is creating abrand new Google account solely for this, with a solid password that you don't use for any other accounts, and putting it in a Google document. Never use this account for anything else.

Put the account name and password in your safety deposit box. Share the login information with the person who will be the executor of your estate as well and have them protect the login infomation likewise. (Don't just share their document with their existing Google account; the whole point is to prevent someone who hacks into that from getting to this document.) Add a tickler to your calendar to remind you update it periodically.
posted by kindall at 12:47 PM on December 29, 2011

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