San Francisco, CA, November 23, 2010 - Every engaged couple has legal needs and should think ahead to be prepared, says Rocket Lawyer™, the most comprehensive online legal service. Engagements are in the air, especially with the recent news about Prince William and Kate Middleton's pending nuptials. The royal couple has a lot at stake with considerable wealth, paparazzi, and of course, the fact that Kate could be the next queen. 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. Rocket Lawyer™ has legal tips to help any couple planning to get married.
Prince William and Kate are following a popular trend, since the holiday season is the most popular time of the year to get engaged. According to data from the Fairchild Bridal Group, 28 percent of all American engagements happen over the holiday season, with 19 percent occurring in December alone. While speculation is that Kate and William are only taking eight months to organize all of the details of their nuptials before the big day, most American couples wait an average of 17 months before they tie the knot. In addition to planning the wedding itself, couples also need to be prepared for a significant amount of legal and financial "I Do's."
"Before my husband and I were married, we had so many little details to consider -- including getting our Prenup in order," said Selina Kane, who was married earlier this year in Long Beach, California. "We looked everywhere for an affordable option, so once we came across Rocket Lawyer, we were thrilled because it was easy to use and made sense. I highly recommend it for engaged couples."
"Many couples are not prepared for the financial and legal changes that come with marriage," said Charley Moore, founder and chairman of Rocket Lawyer. "With a Rocket Lawyer Legal Plan, engaged couples can manage all of the legal aspects of their lives together -- from getting a Prenuptial Agreement, to legal name changes, to estate planning, without needing a royal budget."
Here are a few tips from Rocket Lawyer to help couples enjoy wedded bliss instead of legal woes:
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, visit the Rocket Lawyer Marriage Legal Center.
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This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.