As the US Supreme Court addresses two cases related to same sex marriage with decisions likely to be announced by the end of June, the financial implications could be far reaching for LGBT couples. What financial planning strategies should LGBT couples be thinking about now, regardless of the results?
• Get your basic estate planning documents in place: wills, health care proxies, living wills, and durable powers of attorney. Doing this is a smart idea for just about everyone, not just gay couples. And consider revocable living trusts which can help the settling of one’s estate with greater privacy and speed. When you do have these documents in place, carry copies with you when you travel, especially to places where your marriage might not be recognized.
• Analyze your needs in the event of disability or premature death. Even if down the road Social Security and pension survivor benefits can ultimately be available to the survivor of a same sex couple, your needs may still go beyond what these survivor benefits might provide especially if you also have children to consider.
• Review your intentions for long-term care needs as to how you’d want to be taken care of and how you would pay for the care. This is especially true for those over 50 years old as they begin moving into the age ranges more likely to need care. Government programs remain very limited in covering long-term costs for most US citizens, so planning ahead can help a lot here. And consider long-term care insurance if it makes sense for you.
• Review, reflect, and refresh your financial planning strategies across all areas of concern including cash reserves allocation, debt management, education and retirement planning above and beyond the topics listed above. The stronger you are as a couple/family, the better prepared you are in the event of an unexpected emergency or opportunity. And the more the capable you are to give back charitably to causes that are important to you.
• Align yourselves with financial advisers, accountants, and attorneys who are in the know on the planning needs and sensitivities of LGBT families. Even if same sex marriage becomes the law of the land there may still be a desire to work with a professional who will be fully comfortable with working with an LGBT family and you may want to interview several to find one you feel is a good fit for you.