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Planning a wedding can be exciting and full of joy, but before you walk down the aisle, you should take the time to make sure you have all of the legal issues of marriage handled. The most important is having a marriage license. This is required in every state, and is simple to obtain. Check with your local courthouse for specific rules according to your state.

In general, you will need to provide proof of identity and age for the bride and groom, proof of divorce if either one of you has been married before, and in some states a blood test. Also talk to the official performing the ceremony and find out if he or she is licensed to perform the marriage. In most cases, the official will have to sign the marriage license for it to be valid. In some states, witnesses must also sign the marriage license after the ceremony.

Property is also important. Consider whether you want to transfer individual property to both your names, or keep them separate. The same should be done for bank accounts. While this does not have to be done before the wedding, it is something that should be decided on and not an after marriage surprise. You should also decide who gets what in the event of a divorce. Although this does not sound romantic, it is legally much easier than arguing in court if you get divorced years from now. Write a will that clearly states who will get what if you pass away. If you die without a will, your spouse will inherit most or all of your property, leaving parents, nieces and nephews, or friends out in the cold if you had hoped to leave anything to them.

Most couples decide to combine their assets as joint property. This is an excellent idea if you wish to avoid problems when one spouse dies. If your checking accounts are jointly held, the surviving spouse can still access the bank accounts. This is easily done by opening an account in both names and transferring money to it from your individual accounts.

For real estate, you can either add the spouse to the current deed or go through a transfer at the courthouse. Check with your local courthouse to determine the proper steps, as this varies from state to state. For other property, such as an automobile, you can transfer the title easily through the administrative office that processes titles. Some of these things are hard for couples just starting out but they are also necessary and could save a lot of headache and problems later.

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