You’ve exchanged vows, cut the cake and maybe even taken your first trip together as a married couple—but that doesn’t mean the to-do’s are over.
“Getting married is making the decision to join your life with another,” says Charreah Jackson, relationship expert and author of the forthcoming book Boss Bride, “and very much like starting a business.” That’s because there’s quite a bit of paperwork involved in merging worlds with your spouse. But there are a few tasks—some big, some small—that could help ease this newlywed burden. Here’s how to get started.
Consider a Legal Name Change
Jackson encourages couples to think through the name-change decision together, as both partners’ birth names are valuable. If one (or both) of you chooses to go through a legal name change, your marriage certificate is just the first step. You’ll need to use that to apply for a new
Social Security card via the Social Security Administration’s website and a visit to your local office. Then take that new card to your local Department of Motor Vehicles to get a license in your new name.
If you’re super busy and hate long lines, Jackson suggests outsourcing the process to a name-change company. These concierge-style services put the necessary paperwork all in one place and help you quickly fill out and submit it.
Notify the Right People
A name change can impact your day-to-day activities, from traveling and getting paid at work to paying bills and receiving health care. As soon as possible, alert the following parties of your new name and/or marital status to avoid any issues where your identity (and credit or health) is at stake:
- Banks and credit card companies
- Employer (payroll and benefits providers)
- Issuers of other forms of identification, like the passport office
- Service providers (utility companies, the post office, doctor offices, etc.)
- Providers of health insurance and other insurers, like GEICO
Handle Your Finances
Now’s the time to decide how you want to manage money together as a couple, says Jackson, if you’re not already doing it. Consider setting up a joint checking account, either in lieu of or in addition to your separate accounts, which can help with budgeting and paying bills. Make sure to note your new name (or names), if you’ve made changes.
Assess Insurance Needs
Chances are that you and your spouse exchanged wedding jewelry or received valuable gifts from others. Jackson can’t stress enough how important it is to protect your assets. Insurance agents at GEICO can help you explore options when it comes to jewelry, homeowners, condo, renters and umbrella insurance policies. You might also consider adding your spouse to your existing life and auto insurance policies. In some states, multi-vehicle discounts are also available.
Start a Will
The post-wedding period is the perfect time to talk wills. “It’s not fun to think about dying, but it’s important that you get on the same page in good times so if the worst does happen, you have a plan,” Jackson says. Take stock of your combined assets, and research the will-writing process so you know your family is prepared.
Send Thank-You Notes and Order Photos
Take time to preserve your memories and thank the people who were part of your special day. “Three months is the longest you should wait to send thank-yous,” says Jackson. “The old-school notion of a year has expired.” Dread writing notes by hand? Make it faster and fun, says Johnson, by sending a postcard with your favorite wedding photos on it. That way, you’ll also have to set a deadline with your photographer to make final image selections.
Feeling overwhelmed? Jackson says there is no one right way to do things. Go at your own pace, and download this PDF checklist so you can start taking care of business.
Read More: Money Tips for Newlyweds
By Danielle Blundell