The Supreme Court’s recent decision recognizing marriage equality made local and international news. Does this mean wedding bells for you and your partner? Even if you’ve been together for years (or decades), here are a few things that will keep your documents accurate and organized through the transition from single to married.
When I set up a file system for a family, I create yours, mine, and ours areas. That is, each person has his/her own collection for asset documentation and reference material, and the couple has a joint area. Filing location follows ownership of the asset. For example, if one person owns a car in their name only, the documentation will be filed in that person’s personal collection. If the car is owned jointly, the papers will be filed in the ours area.
With marriage, expect that more of your documentation will shift to the ours area:
- If you switch to filing a joint income tax return, keep future tax returns in the communal area of your file cabinet. You’ll also want to set up a mutually-convenient spot for both of you to collect donation receipts and other tax-related papers throughout the year.
- Take this time to review the beneficiary designations on all of your accounts and policies. You might need to update names (if you changed your name), or relationship (from partner to spouse). A surprising number of people also discover they are still listing a deceased family member or former partner/spouse, or that provisions for minor children have become outdated. Double-check and make any necessary updates.
- Contact your attorney to see if your new status will affect your will or power of attorney.
Finally, you may discover that with your wedding ring comes a desire to own more assets jointly. You might also consider becoming parents. Each of these changes will necessitate tweaks to the types of documents you keep and how you store them.
But first, celebrate your wedding. The papers will still be here when you get back from your honeymoon!
Organize. Reclaim. Emerge.
My fellow contributor here at the Valley Ledger, attorney Bryan Tuk, offered a summary of the legal impacts of the decision.