As the fall wedding season begins, advisers should make sure they have a comprehensive plan to help clients who are getting married. Advisers need to look at the big picture, like if the couple's retirement goals align, and the nitty gritty, such as insurance policies and estate plans that need updating. The process should start when the couple gets engaged. Just as an architect wouldn't go into an initial client meeting with blueprints, an adviser should get to know a client's spouse-to-be first before creating a plan.
A cleverly titled article in Reuters, “When financial planning meets wedding planning,” notes that a financial adviser or estate planning attorney should analyze each person's financial holdings, insurance coverage, risk-tolerance levels, retirement goals, and any current estate plans before the wedding takes place. Questions to get some clarification about the relationship include:
- Who is going to pay the bills?
- How will you plan for big purchases?
- When are you planning to retire and where?
- If there are children from a previous marriage, how will inheritances be handled?
If the couple has two advisers or attorneys, things can get overly complicated without careful communication; in some cases it can be best if the couple agree to work with one advisor or attorney.
Then there is the sensitive issue of a pre-nuptial agreement, which is typically easier to do with those on their second marriage. If you are younger, childless, and in love, you may believe that it’s not necessary. Talk to your estate planning attorney about the benefits of having this, and then think about it.
Whatever the decision is on the pre-nupt, make sure you talk to your estate planning attorney about updating or creating your estate plans. Couples should go to that meeting with printouts of all of their financial statements and insurance coverage.
Finally, after the wedding, update beneficiary information. This will include insurance and retirement plans. If a spouse has changed his or her name, your attorney can help you update your social security card, credit cards, and passport.
An estate planning attorney can help with these questions and issues, and working in tandem with your financial advisor, create a sound plan for your future together. Please contact me if you are not working with an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney.
Reference: Reuters (September 4, 2015) “When financial planning meets wedding planning”