Something old, something new, something borrowed, something . . . that I know we’re going to forget! Checklists upon checklists accompany the big day, and I can relate. So can my colleague, Anne Patterson, here at the International Foundation—We both got hitched within one week of each other. Now that our respective honeymoons are over, it was a trip to HR to learn about a post-wedding checklist! “Listen in” on our conversation below for a postnuptial paperwork honey-do list for newly wedded employees.
Anne: Justin! You’re married! Let’s see some pictures!
Justin: As are you! Congratulations! It was it was great day, celebrated with family and friends, and the weather was perfect for our outdoor ceremony.
Anne: Awesome! We lucked out too with an amazing day (#bestdayever #pictureperfect) but now it’s back to reality.
Justin: Yeah, like the not-fun things that come with marriage . . . Paperwork!
Anne: I thought everything was crossed off my to-do list until I made a trip down to HR!
Justin: It’s true. Our biggest headache (besides sending out invitations) was figuring out our best course of action for employer health care coverage. How do our separate individual rates compare to ‘employee + spouse’ rates? Looking into the future, how do family coverage rates compare? What are our deductible levels? Which types of preventive services are covered? There are also network considerations. How do our in-network and out-of-network rates compare? Sometimes these decisions go beyond simple dollars. Is her favorite primary care physician in my network?
Anne: Great call. Growing old together doesn’t mean your teeth have to grow old with you. Gross. Just like medical coverage, checking into spousal coverage for dental shouldn’t be overlooked. Whether it’s a PPO or an HMO, spouses may be covered or not covered in different ways.
Justin: Agreed. Looking longterm, we reviewed our retirement plans. What defined benefit and defined contribution offerings can be considered? Do any of our DC offerings have a Roth feature that will impact our future income needs and tax obligations? In addition, if the unthinkable should happen to one of us, the other should be our primary beneficiary. This involved a quick swap of social security numbers and signatures on our beneficiary forms. Another form crossed off the checklist!
Anne: Oh yes. All the forms. Changing the primary beneficiary made me think of something else—After the happiest day of our lives, it’s difficult to think about needing life insurance coverage. By updating our life insurance forms to include each other, we are both covered in the event of a tragedy.
Justin: We also took a “good look” at our vision coverage. Are spouses allowed on your plan? Coverage of regular examinations is key, but how about reimbursements for frames, prescription lenses and contact lenses? While our vision coverage may change, my use of bad puns will not.
Anne: Ha! I can see clearly now that I have that information, Justin. Here’s another one: Marriage is considered a “qualifying event,” which means we can enroll in or change our flex spending amounts. This is a great way for both you and your spouse to save on most out-of-pocket health care expenses (medical, dental, vision) using tax-free dollars. At the start of the plan year, you’ll need to estimate the amount of needed flex-spending dollars, so make sure you think about the addition of your spouse before the plan year starts.
Justin: If any of these changes are made—medical, dental, vision, retirement—they will have an impact on take-home pay. Make sure to update your budgets accordingly. You may have to tighten up your spending—or may have a few extra dollars for that anniversary gift. Don’t forget to take a deeper look into supplemental insurance which may not necessarily be offered by your employer. Will you change coverage limits on home, renters or auto insurance?
Anne: Eeeee I’ve been trying to avoid the word budget now that the wedding is over, but you’re absolutely right. Another reminder is our W-4 forms. This form was completed when we were hired, and now it needs to be updated again after a qualifying event like getting hitched. Our tax-filing status has changed, so by updating, the federal taxes being withheld are appropriate based on our tax refund or obligation.
If you, your colleague or your employee is about to take the marriage leap, make sure they are saying I do to making the updates Anne and I recently learned about. Here’s a handy post-wedding checklist.
Justin Held, CEBS
Senior Research Analyst/Educational Program Specialist at the International Foundation
Communications Associate at the International Foundation