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September 1, 2015

Retirement Readiness: Unique Considerations for the LGBT Community

Tom Anderson Headshot
Tom Anderson, Author & Wealth Management Advisor

“I don’t know, I’ll probably live to be about 70 or so.”

This is the kind of answer I hear more often than not when I talk to members of the LGBT community about how long they expect to live. I have been in wealth management for nearly two decades and life expectancy is just one of the issues that presents unique and complex retirement considerations for the LGBT community. It’s why I specifically addressed the topic in my new book, The Value of Debt in Retirement.

At the centerpiece of the book is my belief in the importance of factoring people’s debts just as much as their assets when assessing their financial situation. And in many cases, the proper management of the right amount and right kind of debt can potentially increase your wealth, lower your taxes, and reduce your risk in retirement. These are strategies that can often be more complicated for the LGBT community.

With that in mind, I had the pleasure of speaking to members of the LGBT community in an event sponsored by SAGE and the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Coral Gables in May. I heard a number of stories from the audience about the complicated financial situations they face largely because they are part of the gay and lesbian community.

It’s why one of the first things I stressed in my remarks is to expect to live longer than you think. More and more people are living into their 90s and even 100s and with advances in medicine, those numbers will only continue to climb in the coming years. As you plan for retirement, this is a critical consideration to ensure you don’t run out of money!

Long-term care can also be complicated. Strained family relationships and discrimination can greatly impact the support you need when you are receiving medical care. Those family relationships can contribute to family structures that are often very different from heterosexual individuals and couples. Identifying these structures and determining beneficiaries of things like your IRA, 401 (k), and life insurance are essential.

These are complexities that in some ways are or will be made easier in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last month, guaranteeing a right to same-sex marriage. But this also raises a host of new questions. What does this mean for Social Security? What are the potential tax implications? I spoke to a lesbian couple at the event in Coral Gables who had the opportunity to get married in Florida prior to the Supreme Court ruling, but have elected not to because of the tax consequences. The moral of the story is you should talk to a financial advisor to get a better understanding of all these complex issues.

I look forward to discussing these topics and other retirement considerations for the LGBT community in more detail – and the new developments in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling – at another SAGE Successful Aging event on October 1st in New York City. I know there are a lot of questions out there, not all of which I can answer, but the first step toward a successful retirement is gaining an understanding of what questions you should be asking in the first place.

--Posted by Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author and nationally acclaimed wealth management advisor. A dynamic public speaker, Tom has trained more than 10,000 financial advisors nationwide, providing a holistic perspective that focuses on both sides of the balance sheet. His latest book "The Value of Debt" is available now.

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