Tackling Money Concerns in Remarriage

Roughly 75 percent of those who have been divorced will ultimately remarry, according to government statistics. Money can be a source of tension in any relationship, but the California Society of CPAs (www.calcpa.org) advises that there are steps that couples who are remarrying can take to preserve harmony.

TAKE A NEW APPROACH

Old habits die hard, but you may have to change some of your spending, saving and planning habits in a new marriage.

While many newlyweds are just beginning their adult lives together, those who are getting remarried already have experience in sharing a household with another person and making financial decisions together. Their approaches to money may be completely different. One person may have spent a lifetime being a meticulous planner, while the other may never have reconciled their checking account statements.

It’s a good idea to understand these differences now and to develop a financial approach that will suit your new family. Decide how you will make decisions and monitor your finances. This is also a good time to discuss your near- and long-term financial goals to be sure you are on the same page.

Discuss, too, the terms of any previous divorce decrees if they include payments to a former spouse or children that will affect your financial future together.

YOURS, MINE AND OURS

As part of your discussion about your financial philosophies, decide what kinds of accounts you will share or keep separate. Some remarried couples pool all of their money in newly opened checking and savings accounts, while others retain their own individual accounts as well as a joint account. There’s no one right way to do it, but how you handle your money is a decision that should be discussed before you are married.

Decide, also, whether you will be adding each other’s names as beneficiaries on insurance policies, 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts, investment and savings account or any other assets.

CONSIDER A PRENUP

Prenuptial agreements are not only for the very rich. They can help any couple establish guidelines about assets in case of divorce. Many people believe they are unromantic, but they can be very useful tools, particularly if one or both spouses have children from a previous marriage or if one spouse will be quitting a job to stay home with the couple’s extended family.

The prenuptial agreement can spell out what assets each spouse is bringing to the marriage and how money will be distributed if the marriage ends. Don’t try to work out the details in the prenups yourselves. Instead, share your wishes with your attorney and let him or her negotiate with your spouse’s lawyer. When everyone in your blended family knows where he or she stands financially, it can mitigate unnecessary future tension.

THINK LONG TERM

A will is an important document that can ensure your wishes are followed after your death. Wills are particularly valuable in remarriage because, like a prenuptial agreement, they provide a legal basis for how money will be distributed. Your new marriage may also prompt you to make changes in the beneficiaries for your life insurance policies or retirement accounts, or to increase your life insurance to cover new family members.

A new marriage clearly raises many financial questions. Your local CPA can help you navigate through these questions to help you get off to the right start.

To listen to podcasts with more financial tips, go to http://www.calcpa.org/Content/community/financialempowerment.aspx.