Finances for Same-Sex Couples
Because of the ever-evolving legal and political climate around same-sex relationships, the financial planning for such couples comes with its own complexities. When our clients are in LGBT relationships there are steps and strategies we must focus on to ensure their relationship and its financial commitments are protected. In states that are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples this can be somewhat mitigated, but challenges may endure that require an additional level of planning.
One of the keys in financial planning in LGBT couples is legal documentation. Because many couples do not have the automatic protections that contractual marriage affords (passage of wealth in the case of loss of life, hospital access in case of emergency, shared health benefits, etc.), we need to be able to simulate those benefits other ways. Many estate attorneys will do this through the use of the 5 key documents:
Powers of Attorney (2): A Financial Power of Attorney allows you designate to access and control your financial assets if you are incapacitated. Medical Power of Attorney is similar but deals with the medical side of things; if you are not able to make decisions about your health then the Medical Power of Attorney that you have designated will make these decisions on your behalf.
Living Will: Through a living will, you tell people what you want done if you need life-sustaining medical treatment, pulling. There is an area in this document that can talk about being a donor and what you would like to have done with your body after passing if it includes a Last Remains Designation.
HIPAA Release: Your HIPAA Release document is permission for the physician to release your medical condition to the person who has the HIPAA. This allows your doctor to work directly with your partner for the benefit of your care in the case of any kind of health situation.
Living Trust: A Trust is a contract that holds title to and controls your assets. This can be a crucial part of planning for LGBT partners. The main focus of this document is to make sure your assets go where you want. It also protects your privacy; it remains confidential and does not become a matter of public record. If your estate would go to court in a probate process without a living trust, a judge would decide where everything would go and looks to family (blood relations) first.
Once you have worked with your estate planner, this is when your Trilogy advisor comes back into play. Your financial advisor will make sure all your assets have the correct titling and have the correct beneficiary designations. This will need to be looked at and brought up to date on an annual to bi-annual time frame depending on when new assets are acquired and others are sold or will no longer be part of your estate.
Having these five key documents in place often creates the groundwork for key financial conversations between you and your partner. It can help you clarify your shared goals and then use those shared goals to make significant progress on your financial plan. While there are some nuances to LGBT planning, the core issues remain the same: Communication between partners, recognizing shared goals, and finding financial compatibility. Couples who achieve these steps have much more working for their financial futures than those who do not.
Questions to Consider:
- Do you know what your legal rights are in terms of caring for your partner and/or accessing his/her finances in an emergency?
- What financial long-term commitments have you made to each other? Does the titling and legal documentation of your assets reflect those commitments?
- What state is your estate plan in? Does it reflect your current wishes?
- Have you communicated formally with each other and with key family members your financial intentions?
- Are you working with an advisor who understands the legal and personal issues specific to LGBT planning?
Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Additional advisory services offered through Trilogy Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Trilogy Financial Services, Trilogy Capital, Inc. and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.