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Legal Guide to Getting Married - 168778232-c.jpg

Legal guide to getting married

Are you a newlywed or recently engaged? Then this guide is for you! We’ll help you learn the practicalities about getting married and which legal documents you will need to update and change, or even toss away.

Marriage certificate

Each state has its own marriage certificate process. Typically, there is a fee associated with obtaining the license to get married. This license must be signed before it becomes a marriage certificate. Typically, after the marriage ceremony, an officiant signs and returns the marriage license to the county that issued it. Once the county records the license, it turns into an official marriage certificate that you and your new spouse will get a copy of in the mail.

This is an important document, so you’ll want to keep it in a safe space. If your marriage certificate is defective due to problems with filing or signatures, most states have methods of perfecting or correcting the defect, but it’s best to check your local rules.

If you ever lose your marriage certificate, don’t worry. You can always request a copy with our Marriage Certificate Request Letter.

Change of name

Many individuals choose to change some part of their middle or last name when they get married. First, you’ll need a certified copy of your marriage certificate (or the document you receive from your state or county after filling out your marriage license) before changing your name.

Next, you’ll need to notify a variety of state and federal agencies. A good place to start is by contacting your local Social Security Administration office to update your Social Security Card. To do this, you can make an appointment with your local office and fill out the SS-5 form needed to change your name. Bring original copies of your (1) birth certificate, (2) passport, (3) driver’s license, (4) Social Security Card, and (5) your marriage certificate.

After you update your Social Security Card, you can use the new Social Security Card to change your name on other documents and accounts such as your:

  • driver’s license
  • voter registration
  • title and registration of your car
  • bank accounts
  • employment documents
  • retirement accounts
  • insurance information
  • credit cards
  • memberships (gym, Netflix, hunting club)
  • social media accounts
  • passport
    • To update your passport, you will need to get a color passport photo and send that in along with your current passport and a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

      Tip: You may want to request an additional certified copy of your marriage certificate before you apply for a new passport because you have to mail in a certified copy of your marriage certificate and it can take time to get your copy back. You can always request a copy with our Marriage Certificate Request Letter.

Beneficiary designation

Even if you don’t change your name, it’s a good idea to look at your beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, life insurance, and any other bank accounts. Consider updating these designations to your spouse. You can submit a Change of Beneficiary Letter to your employer, insurance companies, and retirement accounts to alert them of the change.

Taxes as a married couple

If you get married at any point in 2016, you are now required to file taxes either as married filing separately (MFS) or married filing jointly (MFJ) — for any income you earn in 2016. What this means is that when you go to file taxes before April 2017, you will no longer have the option of filing as a single person if you’re married.

For most couples, filing a tax return as married filing jointly provides a beneficial tax outcome. Married couples filing a joint return can claim two personal exemptions instead of one and can use a standard deduction of $12,400 verses the single taxpayer deduction of $6,200. You can also choose to itemize your deductions for benefits like mortgage interest payments. Another benefit of getting married this year? Spouses can give each other unlimited gifts without the gift tax limits.

If you and your partner make relatively similar amounts and do not have children, you may be impacted by the marriage tax penalty. It’s important to check with a tax professional when making choices about your filing status.

Prenuptial Agreement

It can be awkward bringing up the idea of a prenup amidst the wedding planning and congratulatory dinners, but it’s a smart step to take before getting married. Think of this way: Prenuptial Agreements are designed to protect both parties in the event that something goes awry. It’s like insurance for your marriage. No one gets into a marriage thinking they’ll get divorced, but sometimes, life happens, and things fall apart. In that event, you and your spouse will have a prenup to fall back on.

We can help you create a customized Prenuptial Agreement that will help protect both your assets, avoid spousal debt, and prevent conflicts from happening.

What are some ways you’re getting ready for your marriage? We’d love to hear in the comments below!

Amanda Gordon, Esq.

Amanda Gordon, Esq.

Amanda Gordon is Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney and a family law attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Amanda focuses on all aspects of family law including divorce, child custody, support, and parenting plans. Amanda’s mission for her practice is to put family first. Find out more at gordonfamilylaw.com.
Amanda Gordon, Esq.

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One Comment

  1. www.legisone.com says:

    Thanks for the valuable information.