When you’ve just finished planning out every rustic detail of your dream wedding at Minnekhada Lodge in the beautiful forests of Coquitlam, lawyers and estate planning and even more paperwork is the furthest thing from your mind.
But since every newlywed couple faces a mountain of paperwork, what’s a few pieces more? Especially when the legal documents drafted during estate planning will give you peace of mind, knowing you and yours are protected as you begin the next phase of your life together.
First things first: you need to make things official for the state. Under British Columbia law, you or your spouse must purchase your marriage licence in person. Then—after you and your witnesses sign it—your officiant is responsible for registering within 48 hours of the wedding ceremony.
If you’re planning on any name changes, then all personal documents will need to be updated. Start with the major ones—driver’s licence, social insurance number, and passport—and don’t forget any accounts with banks, utilities, landlords, and email providers.
If your partner isn’t already the beneficiary on your life insurance policies or other benefits, you’ll need to alert your insurer to the change. You also may need to update your car or home policies to purchase insurance for your new spouse and shared assets.
Getting married is a key time for people to draft a will for the very first time. If you’ve already got one, get in touch with your wills and estates lawyer to update it. Although you will most likely not need it for years to come, a will allows you and your new family peace of mind that all of your affairs are legally in order and represent your new circumstances.
Under British Columbia law, if you wish to outline your medical wishes in the event you become incapacitated, you must create a separate legal document called an Advance Care Plan. This can also include a Representation Agreement and Enduring Power of Attorney, which in most cases will name your spouse. You can write one yourself, or ask your wills and estates lawyer to include these documents when you draft your wills.