The W4, also known as your Federal Tax Form, it usually is followed with, Do I put 1 or 0? Sound familiar now? This is just one of the several tasks you need to take care of with your employer when getting married. So often women get wrapped up in the fun and frills of planning a wedding, the only legal document they think about is the marriage license. In your race to the alter, remember to add these important items to your to-do list for the office:
Dan Veit, director of human resources with the Habegger Corporation, says that this, along with health insurance, should be the first two things you change when getting married. Like many single people, parents, siblings or other extended family are assigned beneficiaries, so it is important to make necessary changes before getting married. Veit says that beneficiary documents can be internal, or outside your company, so make sure to check all possible roads. Examples of documents that typically have assigned beneficiaries are:
- Life Insurance
- Accidental Death
- Outside Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
- WHO – When deciding on if the bride or groom should carry the insurance, Veit states that each person should asses their companys medical plan to determine which has the best coverage and is the most economical for you. In most cases, it is cheaper for the two of you to go on one plan rather than carry two single plans, especially if there are children involved.
- WHAT – Be sure to check dental and vision, as well as other plans that are best for family coverage. Many companies are beginning to offer a variety of plans to choose from that best suite your personal needs, as well as coverage for all sorts of family types. Veit says to keep in mind that just because one of you carries the health insurance, doesnt mean that the same person has to carry dental or vision. Once again, assess which coverage is best for your new family.
- WHERE – Check with your HR department on where resources and tools are for policy research. Many companies are making their health insurance plans available online. Policy details and guidelines are often available right at your finger tips, so plan a night to sit down together and go over everything.
- WHEN – Veit reminds us that marriage is considered a qualifying event to add or drop your medical coverage. This means you can you make the needed changes at any given time, not just when open enrollment comes around. If you dont get to make the necessary changes before the wedding, you still have time. According to Veit, the window of opportunity is typically within 30 days of the date of your marriage.
- WHY – Veit stresses that health insurance and beneficiaries should be taken care of first. Depending on when your company or carrier allows you to change, you should try to get this done before the wedding. The real life stories of honeymoon horrors are out there falling off cruise liners, murders in foreign countries, accidents on the way to the reception hall. One episode of Oprah should cover it. Emergencies can arise at any given time, so it is important to make sure you and your new loved one is taken care of.
#3 TAX FORMS
Surprisingly, tax forms arent as time sensitive as beneficiaries and health insurance, and can usually be filled out after the honeymoon. Dont wait too long or you might forget, and you can possibly miss out on paying less!
W4: Federal Tax Form
W4 forms can be obtained, and modified at any time, from your payroll or HR department. The simple part is changing your status from single to married." The tricky part is the "dependents" issue. Veit says it varies depending on your individual tax basis, and to look at both of your incomes combined. He suggests getting the help of a tax preparer. They can help determine the number of exemptions and dependents that are best for the two of you. Typically, both husband and wife change to married withholding status, and in most cases, utilize the number of exemptions when children are involved.
State Tax Withholding
When changing your W4 status, remember to change your state withholding as well. Most people use the same information that they used for the W4. As with the Federal Tax Form, the State Tax Withholding can be obtained from your payroll or HR department.
#4: OTHER POLICIES
When getting married, Veit says, people should consider all beneficiaries and policies. Be sure to look at not only life insurance and accidental death, but also short and long term disability. Also, check out benefits, policies and investments outside of your company. As stated before, find something that works for both of you and any children that might be involved.
#5: THE SMALL THINGS
As women, giving up our last name or hyphenating adds a little extra work to the already mounding pile. Dont forget about the small things around the office such as:
- Company e-mail address – If your email contains your last name, change it accordingly. Contact technical support or the appropriate department to make the changes. Check to make sure that e-mails sent to your old address can be forwarded to your new one, and it might be a good idea to e-mail your contacts so they are aware of the change.
- Signature Change – Your signature on things such as e-mail closures, stamps, payroll, automatic sign-offs, etc. should be changed to reflect your new name.
- Contact information – Without wasting paper, replace business cards, letterhead or any other pre-printed document with the correct contact name. Even if you arent ready to order anything, still change your template or contact the distributor to make sure changes are in effect. Dont forget about the company directory and voicemail.
Check with your companys HR department for their individual policies. They might have a different timeline on when things need to be filed. Then, when the wedding is over, start enjoying the other benefits of being married.