Experts You'll Need: Merging Your Lives

One plus one equals... one (happy couple, that is).

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So you two have decided to make it official? Kudos! Before you head down the aisle and off on your honeymoon, there are a few preliminary steps you can take to ensure that the decision to become one changes your relationship for the better. Start by reaching out to a set of professionals that'll help make your life transition that much more seamless. Here are a few experts:

1) A Pre-Marital Counselor

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Now that the ring is firmly planted on your finger, schedule a series of appointments with a relationship therapist in the months leading up to your wedding. Here, you and your spouse-to-be can discuss any and all issues related to your coupledom in an open, honest, mediated environment. A counselor can help you two talk through financial expectations, family planning and parenting style. You'll also have the chance to learn other essential marital skills, like effective communication and conflict resolution.

2) A Personal Banker

Soon those two incomes will become one—or will they? First, decide whether you're planning on depositing both of your paychecks into one joint account or keeping your money completely separate. From there, a personal banker will help you both organize your finances and build financial security as you begin your life together. Now is the time to decide which one of you will be responsible for managing the money overall, and if not, which one of you will handle various monthly bills and fixed household expenses. A professional can also offer advice on effectively paying down debt, building up a mutual emergency fund and liquid savings account, and planning for your retirement.

3) A Tax Preparer

Make an appointment with an income tax-focused accountant to take a close look at both of your tax situations. You won't actually have the option to file together until the year after your nuptials, but a preparer will assess your paperwork and go over your options. They'll also advise you on adjusting your tax withholdings and help you decide which filing status—married filing jointly or married filing separately—is better for you two.

4) An Estate Attorney

Let's face it; no one ever wants to discuss anything relating to end of life care and decisions, but since it's inevitable, now is the perfect time to go ahead and get it over with—together. Meet with a probate attorney to devise an estate plan, name a power of attorney, outline advance directives, execute a living will, draft a trust, etc. Having this uncomfortable conversation now will save your entire family a lot of confusion and heartache in the years to come.

Good luck!

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