Guess blog written by Lauren Costanzo.
Firstly congratulations. After you get married, there are a few legal things you might want to consider so we’ve made a checklist of things to go through with your new spouse.
There is no requirement to legally change your new, many people do this out of custom. Some people combine names (i.e. “Smith-Baker”). If you are going to change your name, then you don’t necessarily have to register the name change. Rather you can usually update your formal documents by making a request to the various bodies (banks, department of transport, passport office etc). Almost all bodies will accept the name change if you provide a marriage certificate. If you wish to change your name to combine it with your spouses, depending on how you want to change it you may need to formally request a name change at the Birth, Deaths and Marriage registry.
When you get married it’s important you ensure your Will is up to date. While your new spouse passing away might be the last thing you want to think about, it’s important you don’t put your head in the sand. Many newlyweds assume once married that they will automatically inherit any property upon the death of the other space. This belief is a semi-myth in Queensland. If you die without a will, it’s called dying ‘intestate’. Part 3 of the Succession Act 1981 Queensland sets out the rules on what happens to your property. If you don’t have a valid will your spouse may not necessarily be entitled to your entire estate, particularly if there is children of another marriage, unborn children or existing children of the marriage.
Power of Attorney
If something terrible happens having a power of attorney is important. This simple document can cut through the bureaucratic red tape and gives the power of your spouse (or any other person you wish to nominate) to make decisions in your best interest. This can include important medical decisions and financial decisions. Unfortunately, accidents happen, but life goes on and bills need to be paid. A power of attorney will make it easy to keep your new spouses life on track in the event they become unable to make their own decisions. If you require more specific powers for medical wishes, you can also use an Advanced Health Directive.
It is hard to talk about what happens to property if the relationship doesn’t work out, but it’s important to have a frank and honest discussion about the state of each other’s finances. There is a common myth that getting married gives each of you entitlements over each other’s property. This usually isn’t the case. Family law is complex and the rules surrounding how property is distributed require much more thought then “we were married, so it’s 50/50”. You see property can include DEBT. So it’s very important you understand what you’re getting yourself into and seek legal advice from a family lawyer early if you want to protect your assets. Asset protection is not just protecting yourself if the relationship doesn’t work out (we hope it does) but it’s also protecting your assets from creditors. You can enter into a binding financial agreement with your spouse about what happens to each other’s property before, during or after the relationship.
Update Superannuation and Life insurance policies
It’s important to contact your superannuation and life insurance providers. Superannuation and life insurance doesn’t automatically flow to your estate after you die, instead, it goes to wherever the fund’s trustee nominates it to go. To ensure it goes to your spouse you should contact your providers, they will provide you with a form to fill out and send back. It’s important to remember each fund or insurance has its own rules surrounding who you can nominate and how long for. It’s important you discuss your requirements and review your wishes at least every 2 years.
Add your spouse to property title
There is no legal requirement to change property title upon marriage, however, keeping it in your sole name won’t necessarily protect it in a separation or against creditors. If you do wish to add your spouse to your car or house title, check with the Titles office in your state. Fees, including stamp duty, might be payable.
Disclaimer – It’s important to seek independent legal advice specific to your situation. This blog is for informational purposes and not to be relied upon as legal advice.
About the Author
‘Lauren Costanzo is the practice manager of Cudmore Legal Family Lawyers Brisbane. Cudmore Legal is a legal firm based on Brisbane northside at Aspley (near Chermside) and Bowen Hills. They handle family law and estate planning matters.’
Cudmore Legal Family Lawyers – https://www.cudmorelegal.com.au