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Royal Engagement Sheds Light on Legal Aspects of Getting Married

Prince William and Kate Middleton /AP

There’s a lot at stake in the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton: considerable wealth on both sides, the attention of paparazzi, a curse from Bishop Pete Broadbent, and of course the fact that Kate could become Queen to William’s King. However, William and Kate aren’t the only ones faced with important legal decisions. Every engaged couple has to consider whether or not to create a Prenuptial Agreement, determine how to divide or combine finances, decide on new married names, and more.

Here are a few tips from Rocket Lawyer to help couples enjoy wedded bliss instead of legal woe:

Consider a Prenuptial Agreement. It’s not just used to protect your assets in case of divorce. A Prenuptial Agreement allows both spouses to disclose their financial situation before the marriage — so both parties know what they’re getting into, and can create a plan for managing finances together in the marriage. Don’t think of the Prenuptial Agreement as an “exit strategy” — think of it as a way to show your partner that you care about building a successful marriage, including taking care of the less-than-romantic financial details.

Decide on married names. The easiest way to get a legal name change is to write your new name on the marriage license. The hard part is deciding what this name will be. Figure out if you and your fiancé want to share the same last name, keep your current names, or hyphenate them. Then be prepared to notify everyone you do business with about your new name, in addition to getting all of your identification cards and documents replaced. This includes changing your name with your voter registration, your DMV, your credit card company, your passport, and your social security. Rocket Lawyer provides a Name Change Notification to make the process easier.

Get signed contracts with all wedding vendors. Whenever you make an agreement with a vendor, you need to put it in writing. Think of organizing a wedding like managing a business. You have a financial stake in your wedding, and the contracts protect you as well as the vendor. With a contract in place, if something goes wrong, you may be able to take the vendor to small claims court. If any of your vendors don’t have a standard contract, you can create vendor contracts like a Venue Rental Agreement with Rocket Lawyer. Once you’ve created these contracts and E-signed them, you can keep them organized in your secure online Rocket Lawyer account.

Get liability insurance for your wedding. Often wedding event spaces require a Release of Liability for an event, which can be completed through a simple form. If you do release the venue from liability, you will need liability insurance to cover potential accidents at the event, like someone slipping on the dance floor. Often you can add it to your homeowner’s policy, or if you don’t own a home, check with renter’s insurance carriers and major car insurance companies. Some venues, especially old or historic ones, also require your wedding vendors to carry liability insurance policies. When you’re signing the contract with the venue, ask about their liability requirements so you can prepare accordingly.

Create or update your estate plan. Once you’re married, you’ll need to include your new spouse in your Will, Living Will, Living Trust, Power of Attorney, or any other family legal documents. Planning your life with your fiancé includes planning for all circumstances, in sickness and in health. Talk with your fiancé about your estate plan so you’re prepared for anything.

For more information, see our press release.

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