Establishing a Solid Foundation for Partners
The Millstone Evans Group has a long and active history of commitment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. We'll work closely with you to shape a strategy that addresses the unique factors the LGBTQ community faces – as well as the factors that are unique to you individually.
1. Know Your Financial Situation
As a gay or lesbian couple, some states allow legal marriage, while some states allow domestic partnership, and therefore it is difficult to understand which of the protections and benefits the law extends to married couples are applicable to you. You may want to work with an estate attorney to ensure that legal documents are in place, such as a will or living trust, durable powers of attorney for healthcare and finances, and parental rights agreements to help protect your rights. A new organization called The LGBTQ Bar has formed to help LGBTQ couples address their unique tax situations. An excellent resource for information on taxes by state can be found here: http://lgbtbar.org/tax/
2. Define How You'll Handle Finances
Partners living together must decide whether to handle finances separately or as a couple. A candid discussion of your financial values, priorities, and goals provides a solid foundation for making these decisions. If you decide to handle finances as a couple, does this include long-range retirement planning or just short-term financial matters, such as managing household finances? By clarifying this now, you can ease financial decisions about managing household expenses, developing a budget, opening joint accounts, and saving and investing for the future.
3. Know Your Employer Benefits
Many employers now offer domestic partner benefits to the life partners of their employees, including health insurance. But before your partner signs up, be aware that the value of the benefits your employer offers to your partner is generally taxable (unless your partner qualifies as your dependent for federal income tax purposes). It shows up as income on your pay stub and also on your year-end W-2 form. You may find that the additional tax on the domestic partner coverage prompts you to select your own employer's separate plan, if available.
4. Set Up a Strong Retirement and Estate Plan
For estate planning, married couples have the benefit of inheriting the assets of the spouse free of estate tax. Because partners living together lack this tax shelter, there may be a greater need for life insurance to protect surviving loved ones. Everyone needs a financial plan that will allow him or her to educate children, live in retirement, and pay for care in times of ill health.
5. Consider Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance can be a key component of a financial plan that provides protection for loved ones. Most of the companies that provide this insurance will give partners living together for at least 3 years the same discount whether or not they are married.
Financial planning is an important part of preparing for your future, whether you are single or part of a couple. We'll help you organize your financial life, identify goals and make plans for achieving those goals. For more information about our practice, call us at 800.201.4554 or 720.419.8192 and set up a no-cost, no-obligation meeting.
Please note, changes in tax laws may occur at any time and could have a substantial impact upon each person's situation. While we are familiar with the tax provisions of the issues presented herein, as financial advisors of Raymond James, we are not qualified to render advice on tax or legal matters.