Getting Married or Sharing a Life With Someone

Q.1. What financial issues should we consider when we get married?

Getting married today typically involves managing two careers, two incomes and a joint sharing of expenses.  It also involves joint planning and an agreement on money management strategies. It is important during this time to ensure a cooperative effort as financial matters are a major reason for marriage breakdowns. Strategies to achieve this goal are relatively simple but require planning.

Q.2. How do we plan our financial future as a couple?

Planning your financial future together requires you to consider a number of different issues. You need to consider whether or not you intend to have children  and how that will impact your career goals. Determining the type of home ownership you desire should also be a topic of discussion. You should also look at insuring your assets and developing an estate plan.

Q.3. Should we have a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into between two people who are about to marry. It sets out how assets will be distributed in the event of death or divorce. A prenuptial agreement is normally used only in situations where one or both parties has significant wealth or expects to receive a large inheritance and wishes to predetermine what will happen to those assets. There could be extenuating circumstances such as children from a previous marriage which would influence the desire to have a prenuptial agreement.

Q.4. Should we put our money together or keep it separate?

There is no one answer for this as there are a number of factors which affect this decision. Sharing a bank account is a decision best made by the individual couple. Realize, however, that even if you keep your finances separate, in legal terms you share everything. This also applies in common-law situations.

Q.5. Should we develop an estate plan?

If you have not established a will government agencies will decide how your wealth will be distributed. Estate planning will ensure that your loved ones will be protected and that your assets will be distributed as per your wishes with minimal problems and taxes. It involves making a will, identifying beneficiaries, and dividing assets.

Q.6. What are the financial implications of common-law relationships?

As a result of changes that took place on July 31, 2000, the definition of a common-law couple is two people who have been living in a conjugal relationship for at least one year.There are property issues related to common-law relationships which vary depending upon the jurisdiction (province or territory) in which you live. In addition, there are financial obligations that are shared by common-law couples including situations involving debt.

Q.7. What paperwork updating needs to be done as we get married?

There are a number of changes that should be made as you get married. Any estate plans you have made need to be changed. You may need to update bank accounts, investments, pension plans, insurance plans and other legal documents such as driver’s licence, passport and health card.