The Legal Considerations of Getting Married

Wedding planning does not automatically include the legal considerations of getting married. How many soon to be married couples fully understand how their marital status and matrimonial regime impacts on almost every aspect of their estate and financial planning?

While it may be the less romantic aspect of the planning, being realistic and conscious when you are about to say “I DO” can save emotional and financial heartache in the future.

An engaged couple should ideally seek some independent advice from a lawyer or notary regarding the legal aspects of a marriage (and understand the different types of matrimonial regimes or marital property regimes). A matrimonial regime sets the rules for managing property and debts accumulated during marriage and how they will be divided up if they divorce or if one of them dies. Unfortunately, couples only discover all of the consequences of their matrimonial regimes at the end of a marriage (Marriage is dissolved by the death of either spouse or by divorce).

Marriage comes with many benefits. Some of these being:

  • Paying less tax
  • Gifting Money tax free (your spouse)
  • Saving money by sharing a single joint health insurance plan
  • Greater Inheritance Rights
  • Maximizing Retirement Plans 
  • Financial protection
  • Buying property made easier thanks to combined incomes

But … marriage is not only benefits. It’s a legal contract with variable consequences depending on where you reside.  

In Quebec for example, the spouses have the same rights and obligations in marriage. In addition to owing each other respect, fidelity, succour and assistance:

  • They are bound to share a community of life by sharing long-term goals, including common interests, having a family and a loving relationship, etc.
  • They both help out with chores and family expenses in proportion to what they are able to do.
  • Being married in Quebec also means that one spouse alone can act on behalf of both of them for everyday family matters.

Marriage in Quebec also gives the spouses legal protections during and at the end of the marriage including:

  • protection against replacement as a beneficiary under an insurance policy if the beneficiary is named through a will
  • partition or division of property at the end of the marriage
  • inheriting from the other spouse if she/he dies without a will.

If you can afford the services of a lawyer or a notary, consulting one before getting officially married is not something to overlook.

(This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.)

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