Guilderland, NY – We know that spring is upon us (sort of) when the annual wedding planner insert arrives in our newspaper. There are articles about planning a wedding, and advertisements from dress shops, caterers, etc.
One article that recently caught my attention was a timeline of items to take care of in the six months leading up the wedding- when to book a place, order flowers, and so on. However, nowhere is there any discussion about the business relationship that you will be entering into. Therefore, the following is a very brief primer of items to address prior to the “best day of your life”:
MONEY !!!!! You are entering into the most significant business relationship of your life. Once you say “I do” you are walking down the aisle now responsible for the support of another person, the sharing of assets, and liability for their debts. Therefore, before you walk down the aisle you should know the following:
Income. How much do each of you earn? Probably one third of the people who come into my office do not know what their spouse earns. This should not be a secret. If you can’t tell each other about your income, you are starting off on a very bad note. Do either of you earn any money “off the books”? If so, do you know how much that is?
Financial Goals. Are you savers or spenders? If one person wants to go out for a fancy dinner every payday and scrape by the rest of the week, and the other has the first dollar she ever earned, eventually you will clash. It is extremely important to determine and define your respective values and come to a satisfactory understanding that you both abide by.
Taxes. Do either of you owe any back taxes? If so, the IRS can try to levy any jointly titled property, bank accounts and future refunds. If the other person does owe taxes, a plan should be in place as to how those will be paid back before you file jointly or have any jointly titled property.
Do you both report all of your income? If not, then you are facing fines, penalties, and potentially criminal action. If you someday need to prove your spouse’s income (such as in a support proceeding), it will be difficult to argue that you signed a joint return that reported $10 but it’s really $10,000.
Insurance. Do you both have health insurance? If not, why not? How will you pay for medical bills in the event of a serious illness? Should you have life insurance? Based upon your age, it may be very inexpensive and a good investment to take care of your spouse and children should something happen to either of you.
No one walks into my office and talks to me about the delicious food or the music at their wedding. The items outlined above are my client’s priorities, but those same items were never thought of prior to the wedding.