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Four in ten Canadian marriages begin in debt, finds a new poll. In fact, many couples owe more than $20,000 when starting off their new lives.

Nearly half (47%) of younger respondents (ages 25 to 34) have outstanding debt prior to their wedding days, with those who’ve been students carrying the highest amounts on average ($35,045).

Turns out, however, that older couples aren’t much better off. People between the ages of 45 and 54 often start their marriages with debts of about $19,000, says the poll.

Read: How to talk to Gen Y clients

Even worse, many people (36%) fail to talk about their debts during marriage discussions, says Ted Michalos, a bankruptcy trustee with Hoyes, Michalos & Associates. This means couples may not be figuring out how to deal with it before buying houses and starting families.

Read: In money matters, opposites don’t attract

Along with encouraging clients to discuss their finances, point out that people should weigh all the options before co-signing on a spouse’s pre-marital debts. Also ask those who are engaged if they’d like to consider pre-nuptial agreements.

Read:

Advise common-law clients to plan for split

How enforceable is a marriage contract?

Help couples blend financial plans

Originally published on Advisor.ca

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