Congratulations! After months of preparation, the big day finally arrives. Even though the ceremony is over, you must still take care of a few legal items after your big day to prove to banks, employers and other financial and legal institutions that you really tied the knot.

  1. Marriage License/Certificate: To most financial companies and government agencies, your marriage is not official until you present a certified copy of your marriage license or a marriage certificate. After you are married and have signed your marriage license, the officiant of the wedding mails the license to the appropriate county office and it takes a week or two for it to be processed.
  2. Name Change: If you decide to change your name after you get married, your first steps will be to apply for a new Social Security card and obtain a new driver’s license. You must change your name on your passport and any other forms of identification that you carry. After you have identification with your new name, you can begin changing your name on all financial accounts, including credit cards and insurance policies.
  3. Health Insurance: After marriage, you may have the option to join your spouse’s insurance plan. Many insurance plans set a time limit for enrolling a spouse after marriage. Once that time is up, you must wait until the next open enrollment period to enroll in the insurance plan. If both you and your spouse have health insurance plans through work, determine whether you will save money by joining your spouse’s plan or keeping separate insurance plans.
  4. Life Insurance and Retirement: If you have life insurance or retirement accounts, update the information to make your spouse the beneficiary. Many life insurance policies allow you to specify more than one beneficiary and the percentage each beneficiary will receive.
  5. Establish a Budget: Establishing a budget by combining two salaries requires some thought. Take the time to discuss how you will consolidate the debt that you are bringing into the marriage and whether you will have joint or separate accounts.
  6. Bank Accounts and Credit Cards: When you get married, even if you do not want to combine finances, you might want to open a joint bank account to cover household expenses. In addition to the joint checking account, contact your bank and credit card lenders to add your spouse as someone authorized to discuss your accounts.
  7. Update Your Estate Planning: If you prepared estate planning documents for yourself while you were single, whether it be a Trust, Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, or Health Care Power of Attorney, you should review those documents and make any necessary updates since you are now married.