If you're planning to get remarried, you have plenty of company: More than 40% of all U.S. weddings are second marriages for at least one of the participants, according to an estimate by the National Stepfamily Resource Center. Naturally, a second marriage will bring many changes to your life — not the least of which may be changes in your financial strategy and goals.
In fact, your remarriage should cause you to take a close look at these areas:
•Past financial obligations — Before even discussing your investments, you and your new spouse should decide how to handle past financial obligations such as child support, alimony and debts. Consider temporarily managing three accounts – his, hers and ours – to keep track of these various payments.
•Retirement accounts — You and your new spouse may want to examine your respective retirement accounts — such as your 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) — to determine if there are areas of duplication that you may wish to avoid. If you both have the same types of investments, you may be more susceptible to downturns that primarily affect one industry or economic sector. By diversifying your holdings, you can reduce the effects of volatility on your portfolios. Keep in mind, though, that diversification cannot guarantee a profit or protect against loss.
•Insurance — Evaluate your medical insurance plans to decide which policy is more economical and comprehensive for you, your spouse and any dependents. You may also want to review disability insurance to ensure appropriate coverage is in place. Also, review life insurance policies and update beneficiaries and coverage.
•Income taxes — When you consult with your tax professional to discuss the tax implications related to your marriage, be sure to adjust your tax withholding on Form W‑4 to reflect your marital status. You may also want to discuss whether your Social Security benefits will be impacted if you remarry and are under age 60.
•Estate considerations — Remarriage almost certainly will require you to work with a legal advisor to make changes to the following: will, living will, durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney and trust. If you have children, this step is critical toward ensuring your wishes will be carried out. You can also speak with your legal advisor if you are considering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
And perhaps above all else, you need to communicate effectively with your new spouse about your respective ideas on managing finances and investments. To develop a joint investment strategy that addresses your goals and your individual differences, you may want to consult with a financial professional.
Your remarriage can be a joyous occasion. And by making sure you and your new spouse are "on the same page" with regard to your financial situation and goals, you can make a positive contribution to your new life together.