Legal Reminders If You Are Getting Married

There are many things to do for couples about to get married, including planning the wedding and honeymoon and handling family and other issues. Because of the excitement of an upcoming marriage, it’s easy to overlook some of the legal matters that need to be handled. Here are some of the most important legal matters to take care of when you are getting married.

Obtain a marriage license and, where required, take a blood or other type of health test

A marriage license can usually be obtained from any county clerk’s office in the state, although some states require that the license be obtained in the county where the marriage will take place. In most states, both parties must apply for the license in person.

Marriage licenses are valid for a certain period of time from the date of issuance. The length varies between states, with a range of 30 days to one year. If the couple does not marry within the allotted time, the license is invalid and a new one must be obtained.

Some states have waiting periods after the license is issued before the marriage can occur. A typical rule may say the marriage cannot take place until at least 24 hours have passed from the time the license was issued. Waiting period laws vary between the states that have them, with most ranging between one and three days.

In earlier days, couples were often required to take a blood or other type of health test before they got married. Most states have abolished these laws.

Decide if you should have a premarital agreement

These typically state how property will be divided in case of divorce or death. Discussing these matters just before a marriage can be hard, but premarital agreements can be very beneficial. By spelling out each parties’ rights in advance, they help to avoid potentially expensive and time-consuming disputes later. Premarital agreements are especially useful in second marriages when there are children from a prior marriage whose inheritance you want to protect, or when one party to the marriage is much wealthier than the other.

Notify organizations of the name change

If a party is making a name change, business and government organizations should be notified, including credit card companies, banks, brokerage companies, insurance companies, the department of motor vehicles, the Social Security Administration and other entities. Women are no longer legally required to change their name on marriage. If a woman does want to change her name, there are no legal steps required other than just using the new name. All states do have a formal name change procedure that can be used if you want.

Review important documents to see if they should be updated
Your will, insurance policies, bank accounts and pension plans list beneficiaries who will receive your property when you die. Review the beneficiaries named in these documents to see if they need to be changed to reflect your new circumstances and estate planning goals.

Find out how you should file tax returns to keep your taxes from rising

There may be a difference in the amount of taxes you and your spouse pay based on the way you file tax returns.

Determine how to hold title to property acquired with your new spouse

How title is held affects many important issues, including who gets it when you or your spouse die, who controls it, and taxes. Find out the way to hold title to property that you obtain with your spouse, such as a home or car, so that your estate planning goals are followed and taxes are kept to a minimum. Also determine if title to any existing assets should be changed.

Determine if existing support and child custody arrangements are affected

If one or both parties were married before, or already have children, check to see how a new marriage will affect prior support and child custody arrangements.

These are some of the most important legal matters to address when getting married. If you are getting married and have questions about what paperwork needs to be completed and other legal steps to take, please call us. It’s easy to overlook something, and we will be happy to assist you to make sure your marriage is conducted in accordance with the law, that your estate planning and other documents are updated to reflect your new family situation and that all other legal steps are taken to put you and your new spouse on the road to a successful life together.

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