Letters: Should you marry your partner's debt?

CBS/MoneyWatch's Jill Schlesinger answers questions from listeners.

Holidays can be the perfect time to cross important items off our to-do lists, like getting our personal finances in order. Jill Schlesinger, the editor-at-large for CBS MoneyWatch in New York, joins host Sarah Gardner to discuss your questions and concerns.

Matthew, a married U.S. citizen who lives in Puerto Rico, has no kids and doesn't plan on having any. He works a high-risk job in law enforcement, so does he need a will? Schlesinger says yes and urges Matthew to seek out an attorney to help.

"I really like hiring attorneys to do wills," says Schlesinger.  "I don't think you should download it online. Each state has specific rules. See someone who is specializing in a state law in your state -- or in your case in Puerto Rico -- who can really guide you through this process. It's really important. What you don't want to do is leave your heir or your heirs a mess to tangle with without a will."

For more information on the importance of living wills, click here.

Jessica from Rhode Island is thinking about getting married and wonders whether she and her fiancee should marry each other's debt.

"You don't actually marry into somebody's debt," Schlesinger says. "That's not what happens. In fact, you can keep you credit scores separate. Remember, every credit score is actually based no your Social Security number. When do you start to combine these two credit scores or get the bad effects of somebody's else credit? When you apply for credit together. When you talk to credit experts what they'll tell you is as much as possible, keep it separate. Don't marry your credit unless you need to."

For more advice -- including how to determine the financial solvency of a building contractor and whether a health savings account is for you -- click play on the audio player above.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk covering sustainability news spots and features.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...