11 Financial Accounts You Should Update After Marriage

by Tamila McDonald
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Financial Accounts Update After Marriage

When you get married, you and your new spouse need to combine your financial lives, at least to a reasonable degree. Often, that means updating a range of financial accounts to ensure your partner has appropriate access or will benefit from the account if you pass away. Since most households have a range of financial accounts, it’s often tricky to remember all of the ones that need addressing. To help make that simpler, here are 11 financial accounts that you should update after marriage.

1. Checking

In most cases, one of the first accounts you want to update after getting married is the primary checking account. By ensuring both spouses have access, it’s easier to ensure that each partner can use the funds for household expenses and bill payments.

Typically, the process of adding a new person to an existing account is straightforward. Simply contact your bank or credit union and let them know you’d like to add your partner to the account. Usually, you’ll need to provide your spouse’s name, Social Security number, and date of birth at a minimum. Some institutions may request more details, so keep that in mind.

If your spouse needs to add your name to one of their accounts, they’ll have to handle that process. They’ll simply contact the bank or credit union and provide the required details instead.

2. Savings

Having a spouse added to your savings account requires a similar process to what’s needed to add a person to your checking account. While this is less critical than getting on checking accounts together, it’s still a wise move in many cases. It allows you to both set aside funds for joint savings goals, keeping the money in a single place.

However, there are situations where not sharing a savings account could make sense. For example, some spouses keep individual savings accounts to set aside money for gifts for their partner, allowing them to have a discrete option. Just make sure you’re both honest if you maintain separate savings accounts, as hiding them could create a feeling of distrust.

3. Investment

In some cases, adding a spouse to a brokerage, CD, money market, or similar investment account is a wise move. Again, it makes it easier to pursue various investments together, centralizing your activity. Plus, it ensures both spouses can manage the funds should the primary accountholder be unable for a period, which is potentially helpful.

However, some couples might prefer to keep separate investment accounts. In this case, updates are still required. At a minimum, consider updating the account information to list each other as beneficiaries, ensuring each spouse will gain access to all or some of the investments – depending on whether you include multiple beneficiaries – should the other pass away.

4. Retirement

Generally, most people keep their retirement accounts separate. However, it’s critical to update your beneficiary information after you get married. That way, if you pass away, your partner will gain access to the funds stored in the account, giving them some extra financial security.

As with investment accounts, retirement accounts may allow multiple beneficiaries. As a result, you can either make a spouse a sole inheritor or split the value of the account between your partner and others, such as children.

5. Life Insurance

Life insurance policies are usually limited to a single account holder, so you typically can’t just cover a spouse by adding their name to a policy. Instead, you can either choose to both have separate policies or seek out a joint policy to keep your coverages together.

If you don’t go with a joint policy, make sure that you review your beneficiaries list and add your spouse if they aren’t already included. Typically, you can either have one or multiple beneficiaries. If you have more than one, make sure to outline the allocations as required to ensure the money is distributed in accordance with your wishes.

6. Credit Card

If you want to ensure your spouse can use your credit card account, the easiest option is usually adding them as authorized user. That allows you to maintain the same terms while still ensuring your partner can receive their own card and use it as needed.

In some cases, you can convert an existing credit card account into a joint one, giving your partner the same rights as the primary account holder. However, some institutions require you both to open a new account to establish joint ownership, a process that will involve reviewing your credit reports and potentially leading to terms that differ from your current arrangement.

If you open a new joint account, you also need to consider whether you’ll need or want to transfer the balance of existing credit cards over. Whether that’s wise depends on your unique situation, but it’s critical to consider the option before moving forward with new accounts.

7. Auto Insurance

In many cases, getting both spouses on the same auto insurance policy is financially wise. Along with ensuring you’re both covered if you drive each other’s vehicles, having more than one car on the broader policy can qualify you for a multi-vehicle discount, potentially reducing your premiums.

However, this is potentially optional. Many auto insurers cover drivers that aren’t on the policy if they operate the vehicle with your permission and meet other eligibility requirements. Similarly, your policies may provide coverage when you drive someone else’s car. Just make sure you review your policies before making assumptions, as what is and isn’t covered when a driver isn’t on the vehicle’s associated policy can vary.

8. Renters Insurance

If your spouse moves into your rental (or vice versa), updating the associated renters’ insurance policy to include both partners isn’t a bad idea. In many cases, it’s the more affordable option, and it makes protecting joint assets easier.

Usually, simply calling the insurer and asking to add a spouse is all that’s required to begin the policy update. Just be aware that the pricing will potentially change, particularly if the amount of property you’re covering together is significantly more than what you had on your own.

9. Vehicle Loan (Optional)

If you want your spouse jointly listed on your auto loan, you can’t make that happen by just contacting the lender and adding their name. Instead, you’d have to refinance the loan, a process that requires a credit check and a few other hoops.

However, making this update isn’t technically required. Your spouse can still drive the vehicle if their name isn’t on the paperwork, and you can get suitable insurance coverage for them, too. As a result, consider adding their name as an optional change.

10. Mortgage (Optional)

Adding a spouse to your mortgage isn’t something you can just do with a phone call. Instead, you typically have to refinance the mortgage and make the new one a joint account with your partner.

Since it isn’t technically necessary to take this step, putting your spouse on your mortgage is optional. You can continue living together and list the property as going to your partner if you pass away without them being on the mortgage.

As a result, it’s best to consider whether it’s financially wise to move forward with a refinance, particularly if the sole purpose is getting your spouse’s name included. The process is lengthy, potentially costly, and may lead to less favorable terms. That’s why it’s critical to thoroughly research your options before proceeding.

11. Homeowners Insurance (Optional)

Generally, you only need to add a spouse to a homeowners insurance policy if their name is on the mortgage or deed. If you don’t refinance your mortgage to make it joint or add them to the title, then it’s often unnecessary to update this account.

Typically, live-in spouses that aren’t on the policy get the benefits transferred to them should you pass away, suggesting the coverage otherwise remains active. As a result, this update is potentially optional.

Can you think of any other financial accounts couples should update after marriage? Did you use a particular approach when updating your accounts after getting married that you feel will help others accomplish the task and want to provide some tips? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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