Newlyweds are not as likely as they once were to keep all assets jointly. According to a Raddon Financial Group survey reported in The Wall Street Journal, nearly half of all married couples have more than one bank account between them. A significant reason for the increase may be that couples are getting married later in life and therefore bringing in established accounts to the marriage. Also, those marrying later in life may simply be used to paying bills on their own and not feel a need to merge finances.
Obtaining a Joint Account
Generally those wishing to combine finances use a joint account. A joint account allows either one of the owners access to all the funds, no matter whom or how much either person contributes. A joint account can help to pay common bills such as mortgage and car payments, utility bills and groceries. Each spouse can pay a portion of these necessary expenses, and with a joint account it may be easier to keep track of the bills. In addition, both spouses can keep track of each other’s spending.
Keeping Some Money Separate
Just because some payments are easier with a joint account, however, does not mean that a couple necessarily needs to pool all their money together. Keeping separate accounts can allow independence and the freedom to make individual purchases (it also helps with surprise birthday gifts).
In some cases, keeping separate accounts is a good idea. For example, if one spouse is paying alimony or child support. Keeping a separate account allows the spouse to keep track of expenses for his or her former family. Similarly, if one spouse has a family inheritance, it can be a good idea to keep that separate from the joint assets. That person can use the money in the interests of the couple, such as a home purchase, but the person who inherits it should control it.
Another occasion for separate accounts occurs when one spouse has debt. Many people now not only enter into marriage with more financial assets, but more financial obligations as well. If one spouse is in a large amount of debt, has overdue student loans or bad credit generally, paying bills with a separate account is a good idea.
Questions for Your Attorney
If you have questions about how to manage joint assets, want to discuss a prenuptial agreement or are currently dealing with a new spouse’s creditors, contact an experienced attorney who can help you navigate your marriage’s finances.