When a new client walks in the door, I never know what that first meeting is going to be like. Oftentimes creating an estate plan is straightforward. A client will know exactly what they want and how their estate should be executed. We put it together. Done. More times than not though, working on an estate plan is like dating someone, you really have to ask them deep personal questions, and with couples, sometimes they need to ask EACH OTHER these personal questions. If you’re lucky, you ask them, before marriage.
Thinking of getting married? Found yourself tethered to a fiancé? Here are 8 questions to ask your partner before marriage!
1. Do you want kids?
It should be a given that if you are interested in someone being your forever person that you would ask them if they want kids, but you’d be surprised by how many people get married (and then divorced) because they didn’t ask that question BEFORE they got married.
Knowing whether or not the person you’re even considering marrying, wants kids is something you need to find out! If it’s a make it or break it deal for you, as it is for most people, finding out sooner rather than later, will help eliminate bigger issues or heartbreak, down the road.
The follow up question to do you want kids should then be, well how do you envision raising kids? With or without religion? At traditional school or home schooled? There are a million different ways to envision raising your kids, and you’ll likely change how you feel as you start parenting but ideally, you’ll evolve together on how you want your kids raised, if you want them 🙂
2. Do you want animals?
What if you’re an avid dog foster parent and your spouse-to-be is allergic, or worse, anti-pets?! Just kidding – we’re not judging you if you don’t want animals or any pets around but it’s a good idea to have that conversation with your person before getting married! It may not be a big deal for everyone, but for those it is a big deal for, better to find out now, am I right?
Sometimes a person just has a dream of starting a family farm and her own little ranch and it’s a good thing you know whether or not you want to be a part of that! Having animals can be a BIG part of your lifestyle, find out before you get married!
3. Do you want to live in the city or in the country?
It’s easy to assume that where we meet our partner is where we’re going to live forever but that’s not always the case. As humans, we’re all different! Many of us love to set-up home where we grew up, where our family is – with something safe and comfortable – but there are also lots of other people who prefer a more nomadic lifestyle, and there’s a whole slew of people who fall somewhere in between both of those. Spending the time to ask your partner or loved one if they prefer to live in the city, in a rural community, and getting to dig deeper about what kind of lifestyle they want, will help you figure out if you guys will be compatible in the long run.
4. Do you want to go to church/synagogue/mosque etc?
If going to a religious service is important to you and having a partner that attends with you would be a deal breaker – it’s a good idea to check – in with your partner! Similarly, if you don’t want to go to a religious service and have a problem with a partner who would, now is the time to check-in! Does the answer to this question change if you guys decide to have kids? Talking and communicating about what you want and what you want for your future is important!
5. Are you a big spender or a penny pincher?
It may seem like a silly question but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t have this question before they get married – and don’t find out until they’re in debt, divorced, and/or working it out the hard way!
Having an idea about your loved ones spending habits, and saving habits, can help you both in the long run. One of you may be better with money than the other, knowing that before you start a marriage is important so you can work together to ensure that neither of you have to sacrifice what you want in life. We all have differences from our partner, but knowing and communicating those things, helps us all navigate through life and marriage!
It’s a pretty cliche question, but ask your partner where they see themselves financially five years from now. Getting the answer to that question can help you both figure out if you see your future the same – or at least similarly aligned enough that you want to move forward. Too often we find out too late that our loved ones have a very different idea of how they want to spend their money! Don’t let that be you 😉
6. What’s your credit score?
It may seem like an invasive or personal question to ask someone about their credit score but having an idea about your partner’s credit and how it may impact your life is important! Asking them about debt is also important because any debt they have, you will also take on as their new partner. Having all your cards on the table with finances – including past debts and/or current debts – gives everyone the opportunity to find solutions that work for everyone! Starting a marriage without all the truths is never a good idea. Set yourself and your partner up for success by having the conversation about your credit and debt before you get married.
7. Do you have a close relationship with your family?
Everyone was raised differently, and as such our experiences with family relationships often vary. Some people don’t go a day without talking or seeing their family, often living within 10 minutes of each other. Other people go months and years without seeing or talking to their family, living in different states or countries from their loved ones.
There’s no right way or wrong way to have a relationship with a family but understanding family boundaries (or families without boundaries) of your partner is important. These things will, without a doubt, impact you and your partners relationships if you have different expectations.
Our relationships with our own families may be different than the ones we want with our loved ones’ families, so it’s always a good idea to talk about what that looks like. If weekly Sunday dinners are important to your family, that’s something you should check-in with your future spouse about!
8. What are your goals?
If goals haven’t been covered already – it’s a great idea to check-in about long-term and short-term goals. If one of you wants to live abroad while raising children and the other one wants to raise children next door to their sister, chances are, these lifestyle choices aren’t compatible! Then again, you never know if you don’t ask.
Having an idea about your partner’s aspirations and goals for their career, retirement, finances, home(s), vacations, and other lifestyle choices (like fitness) will help you decide on a yay or a nay when the time comes to pop the question (or to respond to it).
I hope you found these 8 questions to ask your partner before marriage helpful! You’d be surprised by how many people come in to create an estate plan, typically married, and have never asked half of these questions! Creating an estate plan often forces people to think about relationships, money, and assets in new ways. Don’t wait until then, have the conversation now!
Are you already married? There’s no time like the present to create an estate plan so let me help you get your marriage started right!
Jessica Henman, Attorney at Law, is based in Chico, California (born and raised in fact) and is here to help out anyone in California. For more assistance please give me a call at (530) 520-3109 or email to set-up a time to talk about getting the right estate plan, trust, wills, and other documents for your family. Whether you’re a family with young kids or a family with grown ones, I can help you every step of the way.