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10 Financial and Legal Moves For Couples

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- As couples across the nation pledge their commitment to each other this month, they may be thinking more about Cupid than their CPA.

But Valentine's Day may actually be an ideal time to go beyond chocolates and Champagne and put your money where your mouth is, putting a financial plan to work alongside your decision to commit (whether or not that involves a ring).

Anyone contemplating a marriage should be mapping out a sensible future at the same time.

Rest assured we are not about to suggest handing your loved one term life insurance in lieu of roses -- and the debate over a pre-nup can be waged another day. If you think your love is here to stay, young couples owe it to themselves to map out a sensible future. Long-standing relationships can also benefit from a financial checkup to make sure all is in order. There are plenty of financial and legal decisions that can be easy to put off, or forgotten, until they come back to haunt you.

If you do take the matrimonial plunge, be aware that no matter what date you set for this year means that, in the eyes of the IRS, you are considered legally wed for the entire, current tax year. Place the ring at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31 and, in the taxman's eyes, it is no different than if you had done it as 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1. Though you always have the option of filing taxes separately, to reap the full benefit of a joint filing you may want to make sure you and your significant other have talked over any potential tax issues that could be an unwelcome surprise.

If you are changing your name, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration, the Department of Motor Vehicles and your employer.

It is also important for young couples to talk openly about your financial past. If you've already had that conversation about past boyfriends and girlfriends, take the same approach by explaining the "what was I thinking" pairing with a bad boy of a credit card or the stalking tendencies of a loan that just won't go away. If there is the chance that you'll someday have a matching his and her's credit score, you owe it to each other to be upfront and honest. Request a fresh copy of each of your credit reports, and do so every year, to check for errors.
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