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A same-sex couple in their 50s had been together for a long time but just recently married. Through our planning process, we focused on things like getting on the same page financially, commingling assets, and dealing with their specific tax situation, which was a learning experience for them; they had never talked about or even thought of many of the topics we discussed. What’s more, is by electing some benefits that they were not aware of, they were able to save thousands of dollars a year, plus get additional protections for one of the spouses.
If you are in a same-sex relationship, financial discussions can be particularly difficult and confusing. Why? Because we do not fit into the “typical” heterosexual couple that financial plans have been historically designed for. And as we navigate uncharted waters, though times are changing and many aspects of our financial lives have been similar to those of our straight counterparts, we are learning that some are not the same.
One of the most significant differences is quite simple; we just relatively recently were given the legal right to marry. Because of this, it raises some unique planning challenges for LGBTQ couples. Questions that heterosexual couples have long thought about, and that have largely answered by the legal rights granted to those married, are new to LGBTQ couples. Should we join our finances? When should we make each other beneficiaries to assets? How do we cover each other under our employers’ health insurance?
In short, along with that cherished right to marry came some new financial opportunities that we had not yet dealt with or discussed, but with careful review of their unique situation and professional guidance, we worked through the best course of action for them, from election of benefits, to protecting their spouse in the case of untimely death or disability.