As we wrap up a month-long celebration dedicated to uplifting the voices of members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community, know that here at Atlas, we take pride in providing customized financial planning for all of our clients. We understand the complex planning issues that can arise for our LGBTQ+ clients and focus on their specific personal goals and needs. It’s an exciting month! Here, we will dive into a handful of specific scenarios that our advisors focus on, and ask that our clients be aware of, as we think about the financial planning process:
- On average, LGBTQ+ individuals earn less than their heterosexual counterparts for similar work. Financial advisors and planners now realize the importance of considering the income discrepancy and overall wealth disparity that LGBTQ+ individuals face. If you were able to attend, our March WIRED: Women Investing in Retirement, Education, and Development webinar focusing on the gender wealth gap, you probably noticed common themes. Now, imagine being a woman and a member of the LGBTQ+ community! Financial planning can seem overwhelming without the right kind of guidance.
- In June of 2015, the Supreme Court came to a decision granting universal marriage rights for LGBTQ+ couples. Unfortunately, many states still do not have equal benefits or anti-discrimination laws in place. Because of this, it is essential that members of the LGBTQ+ community have a solid financial plan in place, in an effort to protect themselves from any potential sudden legislative changes.
As a result of the 2015 decision, many long-standing couples who were previously unable to legally marry may have completed extensive estate planning to reflect their desire to have assets transferred to their partner upon death. These couples, some now legally married, may want to revisit their estate plans to ensure that their wishes are properly carried out as seamlessly as possible.
- LGBTQ+ individuals may need to account for unexpected changes to income and living expenses in the financial planning process. Gender reassignment surgeries are not always covered by health insurance plans and the transgender community continues to experience heightened levels of workplace discrimination, regardless of laws. As a result, there can be the possibility for more frequent job changes.
- Starting a family is always an expensive venture, but you will never hear an LGBTQ+ family say that it was unexpected. The amount of planning and expense involved, whether it be for surrogacy, IVF, or adoption, should be addressed with appropriate planning. For example, certain states require additional adoption expenses for a non-biological parent and it is important to consider the overall family structure of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, not all individuals have supportive blood relatives and find that the people they choose as their family are closer to them than the family into which they were born. Understanding who is most important to a client can also help their advisor in making estate planning recommendations.
The landscape of financial planning is continually evolving for the LGBTQ+ community and there is no cookie cutter approach that works for every client. The financial challenges that current LGBTQ+ retirees are facing when compared to the issues that people born today will face throughout their lifetimes may be vastly different. The importance of working with an LGBTQ+ friendly planner who understands these unique issues, without judgement, and who is an ally to the community, can make the difference between unease and financial security. You are unique and so are the financial planning issues you face. Happy Pride, this month and every month!