Relationship finances

February 14, 2013 10:01:08 AM PST
Valentine's Day is a popular time of year for couples to become engaged. But once that engagement bliss is over, couples need to get serious about their financial future.

Patricia Cutilletta of Morgan Stanley shares tips on what couples should discuss when it comes to combining their assets.

The Cutilletta Group at Morgan Stanley Consulting Group
227 West Monroe St., Suite 3400
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 648-3309 (800) 621-5231

Patricia G. Cutilletta, senior vice president of wealth management at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, joined the firm in 1985. She has a master's degree from Northwestern University and a bachelor's from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has been named three times to Barron's Top 100 Women Financial Advisors.

  • Assets - Combining or keep separate. Itemize and make asset allocation decisions as a joint effort
  • Bills - In a 2-income relationship, define who's responsible for what Debts/liabilities/obligations
    Whose liability is it? How much (for what)
  • History - On-time vs. late payments. Credit history & scores. Asset protection/insurance Who is beneficiary? Is it adequate? Especially if children exist or are planned.
  • Retirement assets - Where, how much, who is beneficiary? (be sure it's not a former spouse or a parent). Insurance policies and retirement plans are beneficiary driven. . . pretty ugly if a spouse dies and his/her life insurance proceeds go to the former spouse.
  • Priorities - Is putting money away for the future children's education more/less important than buying a new car? How does each feel about debt?
  • Budget - Is either accustomed to creating, and sticking-to, a budget?
  • Extended Family Input - Is one accustomed to discussing his/her finances and decisions with a parent(s)? Newly married couples can especially walk into trouble if one wants to share but the other believes it's a private matter.