There are ups and downs to life, but big life changes, such as getting married, having a child, going through a divorce, or the death of a spouse, require more than a emotional adjustment. These milestones also signal the need to review your financial situation and make any necessary adjustments.
- Discuss your financial goals with each other — Do you want to save for a new house? Have kids? Decide if you’re going to pool your assets or maintain separate share draft/checking or savings accounts.
- Review your credit histories — Order your credit reports and clean up any credit problems.
- Make name change notifications — If you’re changing your name, notify your employer, credit card issuers, the Social Security Administration, the motor vehicle department, the S. Passport Office, as well as insurers and doctors.
- Create or update your wills and powers of attorney
- Check your insurance — Review your auto, health, property, disability, personal liability, and life insurance coverage. Update beneficiaries on your policies, your IRAs (individual retirement accounts), and other investments.
Expecting a new baby (birth or adoption)
- Evaluate your budget — If you’re planning on moving, buying a bigger car, or want to quit work to raise the baby, you’ll need to create a budget to help you determine how to manage it financially.
- Insurance coverage — Visit your employee benefits department to find out what your policy covers, and when to add a new baby or adopted child to your policy. Research any other employment policies regarding maternity or family leave, and flex-spending accounts.
- Create or update your wills — Besides instructions about how the estate should be distributed, wills should include the name of the person chosen to be the child’s guardian. Parents may also wish to appoint a different person to be the guardian of the child’s money.
- Plan to save for your child’s future — Whether you put money aside each week from your paycheck, or just save their birthday and Christmas money, it will grow over time. Talk to your financial institution about opening an account in your child’s name so the money your saving can grow with interest.
- Educate yourself — Review financial accounts and figure out where the money is. Pull credit reports to see if there are any credit cards or loans you don’t know about.
- Collect information — Before your first visit to an attorney, make copies of all financial records, including statements from financial institutions and brokerage companies, tax returns for the past two or three years, mortgage, copies of financial statements on file at any financial institutions, insurance, safe deposit boxes, wills, and trusts.
- Establish credit — Open a [NAME OF CREDIT UNION] share draft/checking and savings account in your own name. Get a credit card in your own name.
- Update wills and beneficiaries
- Close joint credit accounts — Debt incurred in a joint account will follow both spouses after the divorce. Talk to your lawyer about how to best close joint accounts and limit your liability.
- Get health insurance — If you have insurance through your spouse’s employment, you’ll still be covered during the separation, but once you’re divorced, you’ll need to get your own health insurance.
Death of a spouse or parent
- Get 10 death certificates — You’ll need copies for your insurance, 401(k) payouts, Social Security, probate, and to change the title on property.
- Organize finances — Make a list of assets and liabilities; gather statements from financial institutions and brokerage companies, insurance policies, employment records, tax returns, and so forth.
- Cancel accounts and services — Check for and cancel any automatic or online bill paying services unless you’ll continue to use them. Notify and cancel any accounts with health clubs, magazine subscription, online services, etc., you won’t be using.
- Contact income providers — Notify previous employers, pension fund administrators, and financial institutions holding IRAs or other retirement income accounts. Each may have a different beneficiary. Notify the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.
- Contact life and health insurance providers — Insurance companies will distribute money to the beneficiary listed on the policy. Don’t cancel health insurance until all outstanding bills have been paid.