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Retirement Planning and LGBTQ+ Couples

Every couple, regardless of identity, has a distinct story, and couples’ experiences often shape their financial landscapes. For LGBTQ+ couples, their stories include exceptional resilience.

From fighting for marriage equality to navigating different legal scenarios, these experiences have instilled a sense of resourcefulness and adaptability in LGBTQ+ couples that can be a strength in planning our financial futures. Let’s think about why retirement planning for LGBTQ+ couples looks different and offer advice to help our community succeed.

Retirement Income Planning is Vital

Until recently, legal recognition for same-sex marriages was not universal, making it challenging for LGBTQ+ couples to access some financial benefits. The good news is that, as of 2015, all 50 states in the U.S. legally recognize same-sex marriages, enabling LGBTQ+ married couples to access financial opportunities, such as shared Social Security benefits and spousal individual retirement accounts (IRAs).1

We Lean on Our Chosen Family

According to the United States Census Bureau, only 15% of same-sex couples have children in our household.2 Because children are often the primary caregivers for aging parents, this presents a unique consideration as LGBTQ+ couples plan for our long-term care in retirement.

Many LGBTQ+ individuals have built support networks outside our biological families. This has led to a broader definition of “family,” which often includes chosen families or close-knit friend groups. Unlike the traditional focus on biological relatives, the focus for LGBTQ+ couples may be on extended networks, which could play a significant role in our retirement plans.

We Have Unique Healthcare Needs

Retirement planning for LGBTQ+ couples also requires a keen focus on healthcare considerations. LGBTQ+ individuals often face health disparities linked to societal stigma and discrimination. However, with the ongoing expansion of LGBTQ+ healthcare rights and an increasing number of providers that are becoming more inclusive and knowledgeable, these gaps are gradually closing. Still, this gap emphasizes the need for thorough long-term health planning for LGBTQ+ couples.

We Need a Comprehensive Estate Plan

Estate planning can differ for LGBTQ+ couples compared with heterosexual couples because of our unique familial and social structures. Additionally, while legal strides have been made regarding marriage equality, not all LGBTQ+ couples choose to marry, nor do we have access to the same marriage rights globally. This may impact the automatic inheritance rights typically provided to a legal spouse.

Having a comprehensive and articulated estate plan is vital for LGBTQ+ couples to ensure that our assets are distributed according to our wishes, covering our partners, friends, biological family, or chosen family.

While the retirement planning journey for LGBTQ+ couples may look different, these differences need not be perceived as disadvantages. Instead, they are opportunities to engage with retirement planning from a more comprehensive and inclusive perspective.  As always, it is recommended to speak with your own financial advisors about your unique situation, to be sure they have experience advising individuals and couples within our LGBTQ+ community.

  1. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/26/417717613/supreme-court-rules-all-states-must-allow-same-sex-marriages
  2. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2020/09/fifteen-percent-of-same-sex-couples-have-children-in-their-household.html

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.