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Prepare for Life Events

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Life events, both good and bad, can have an impact on your credit. You can't plan for everything that happens to you in life, but by being prepared you can at least ensure you maintain your good credit.
MARRIAGE
Separate credit reports
You and your partner will each have a separate credit score — there are no credit scores for couples. When you apply for joint credit, the lender may consider an average of your two scores, use either the highest or the lowest score, or some other calculation. Click the button above to learn more by talking with a Wells Fargo loan specialist.
Joint accounts
The most important thing to understand about joint credit is that it means joint responsibility. Joint accounts will appear on both of your individual credit reports, and you're both responsible for paying off any debt. In community property states, any account you open while you are married is considered a joint account — even if it's an individual account that only one of you opens. The bottom line: your individual credit behavior will affect both you and your partner.
Changing your name
If you change your last name when you get married, you should make sure to notify the Social Security Administration, your creditors, and the three major U.S. credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) of the change, so they update their records. You should check it periodically to ensure it's correctly reported.
Keep credit in your own name
Even though you're married, it's still important for both you and your spouse to apply for credit jointly and use your full names on applications. This ensures that both of you will build a credit history of equal length and depth over the length of your marriage. In the event that one of you is forced to apply for credit independently later, your credit history could be a valuable asset.
DIVORCE
In the case of divorce, these are some smart steps to take:
  • Notify your creditors and credit agencies of your divorce and any name change.
  • Close all joint accounts to future charges, and pay off joint debt as soon as possible, so you can close those accounts completely. Since you're both responsible for these accounts, closing them will help protect your credit rating against your ex-spouse's future charges.
  • Open new individual accounts.
DEATH OF A SPOUSE
By planning ahead, you can lessen your financial worries at this difficult time.
  • Get life insurance in advance, to protect the surviving spouse financially. Learn more about Wells Fargo's term life insurance offering by clicking the button below.
  • Contact your creditors and discuss changing joint accounts to your name alone.
  • Know that you may be responsible for your spouse's credit. If you live in a community property state, this includes even his or her individual credit accounts.
LOSS OF A JOB
You can rarely predict when you will lose your job, but you can help protect your credit history by being prepared. Keep an emergency fund of three to six months' living expenses in a savings or investment account you can access easily. That way, you can continue to pay your bills and maintain your good credit rating while you look for another job.
Also notify your creditors of your situation. Many lenders will arrange a new payment plan for your period of unemployment.

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