Now that I’ve gotten all of the lovey-dovey married stuff out of the way, I wanted to offer five practical documents you should update right after you get married.
Reality eventually sets in after the blissfulness of the wedding and honeymoon. Among other things, you have to go back to work and recreate a normal routine.
If you’re like me and Ben, you’ve taken time off after the wedding. And whether it’s for a honeymoon or a staycation, you can use some of that time to accomplish things that you probably weren’t thinking about when you imagined your first few days of married life.
Here are five things to take care of right away:
- Get Your Marriage Certificate: The Monday after we got married, Ben and I walked our signed marriage license down to Daley Plaza to exchange it for a marriage certificate. For those who don’t know the difference between the two, a marriage license allows you to get married and the marriage certificate proves that you are married. Usually getting the certificate takes a couple of days or even weeks, but the woman we met with was nice enough to create the certificate while we waited. (Ben told her he wanted to get the certificate as fast as possible.) Obviously proving you’re married becomes crucial for a lot of things, so get that certificate asap.
- Change Health and Dental Insurance Benefits: As I’ve said before, I’m on Ben’s health and dental benefits at his job. Because we were only considered domestic partners, the benefits paid by his employer on my behalf were taxable. However, now that we are married, my benefits are tax-free. Especially if you find yourself in this situation, or applying for joint benefits for the first time, you want to contact your human resources department and let them know you are married.
- Adjust the Withholding on Your Paycheck: Another reason to contact your human resources is to change the amount withheld from your paycheck. You can do this by submitting an updated W4 or, as in my case, just making the request in writing. You want to make sure your payroll calculates your withholding as a married taxpayer, rather than a single person. As I explained before, you could incur a marriage penalty when you file jointly the next tax year. You should contact your tax advisor to ensure you have the proper withholding for your situation.
- Change Your Name: This step didn’t actually apply to me or Ben, but many people change their name after they get married. You’ll have to fill out an application for the change, provide sufficient documentation, and submit the information to your local social security office. You can find completely instructions here.
- Update Your Will, Trust, and Powers of Attorney Documents: We still need to perform this last step. Even though we have already listed each other as beneficiaries on our estate planning forms, they are outdated because we filled them out as domestic partners. Now that we are married, the titles will be different and that could affect the validity of the documents. More importantly, if you haven’t been together for 13 years like we had, you may not even have a will, trust, or power of attorney with your new spouse included as a beneficiary. In addition, special rules apply to inheritance issues when it comes to spouses. So contacting an estate planning attorney is wise, especially if you want to give some of your assets to other people.
I know dealing with the realities of paperwork right after you get married can be a drag. But these five things have a significant impact on your life. So make sure to take care of them as soon as possible.