Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage – but slightly less romantically, getting your finances in order before going up the aisle is important too.

Major life events such as getting married, having children and moving house are often the triggers for sorting out our finances. And with this time of year awash with hearts and roses as we celebrate Valentine’s Day and National Marriage Week (Feb 7-14), it’s a good time to take a look at what financial steps to consider before getting wed.

Be Open

Trust is a key part of any successful relationship, so in amongst the exciting discussions about wedding favours and bridesmaids’ dresses set aside time to talk properly to your intended about your financial situation. Be completely open about any debts and savings you have so you can plan properly for the future.

To Join or Not to Join Accounts?

There are lots of ways you can manage your money together. One option is for one person to sign up to the other’s bank account. Or you could each keep your own accounts and create a joint one for paying the bills and mortgage or rent. Each partner can put in so much a month depending on earnings. Some people prefer to have entirely separate accounts. This is fine, although it makes paying bills a little more complicated as you’ll need to decide who pays what.

Pre-nup?

It may sound the most unromantic thing in the world but a pre-nuptial agreement can be useful if either party is bringing substantial wealth to the marriage. Should the worst happen and things don’t work out, it will make things much easier if some money has been kept separate. A pre-nup has traditionally carried much more legal weight in Scotland than it has in England.

Owning Property

If you buy a house together pay attention to whether you’re “joint tenants” or “tenants in common”. If it’s the former, one of you automatically gets the property if the other dies. If the latter, you need to specify who gets your share on your death. To do this, you need to make a will.

Make a Will

In some ways this is less important when you get married as some things may automatically pass to your spouse (see “owning property” above). But if you go on to have children it’s very important to make it clear how they should be provided for and who will look after them if you die before they reach 18. You can word your will to allow for unborn offspring.

Planning Ahead

No-one knows what the future will bring, whether it’s children, new jobs, or moving house. There may be less welcome changes too, like illness or redundancy. Getting married is a good time to look to the future and think about saving for your retirement and taking out the right insurance to protect you and your family. Life insurance, critical illness cover, redundancy cover and income protection are all there to give you peace of mind so shop around for the best deals.

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