The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015. The decision enabled hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples to receive the same financial benefits as heterosexual couples.

Still, same-sex couples and families face unique issues. Confusion over spousal benefits, IRA contributions, estate planning, and lingering discrimination make the financial landscape of LGBTQ+ couples occasionally cloudy. This post outlines some financial planning strategies that same-sex couples and families should consider.

Map Out Your Relationship

Many same-sex couples in 2015 had already been in long-term relationships, but the benefit gap between them and straight couples was still wide when same-sex marriage was legalized.

That gap still poses problems today. Social Security survivor benefits for primary earners may not be acknowledged if their partners pass away early. Tax implications vary between states that had already approved same-sex couple benefits and those that did not until 2015.

It may sound unequal — and it is — but same-sex couples should establish a timeline for their relationships to unequivocally demonstrate the seriousness of their union. When did you first express commitment? If you chose to adopt a child, when did you assume custody?

A timeline reflecting the true length of your relationship can make estate planning and beneficiary decisions more impactful. Update your legal documentation to specify joint and single assets between the two of you and your children.

Plan Your Expenses

Research shows that same-sex couples are four times more likely to adopt children than heterosexual couples. Adoption expenses can cost around $40,000. Couples who choose to retain a surrogate to deliver their child can rack up around $150,000 in charges.

These financial realities make it especially important for same-sex couples to form a financial plan. Use trusts to keep your estate separate from family and friends who may be a little too intrusive. Review your beneficiaries and make changes if needed.

Even though same-sex marriage is legal, some states still resist acknowledging or supporting it. As extreme as it sounds, it may make more sense to relocate to an area that’s friendlier to same-sex couples. Set up temporary residency and get matched with birth families, agencies, and attorneys in your new home.

Monitor Healthcare

Although the 2015 decision dictated that all couples deserve the same benefits, some states have tinkered with their legislation to prevent LGBTQ+ couples from getting equal healthcare.

LGBTQ+ couples may want to create a safety valve to account for constant hikes in healthcare costs. Make sure your partner is designated to have power of attorney in case you become incapacitated, and vice versa.

Close the Income Gap for Women

Women still make only 84 cents to every dollar that men earn. Same-sex couples who are women stand to face that restriction.

Until this situation changes, same-sex female couples should make financial plans that will address that gap. They should focus on longevity and eventual retirement to make sure they’re fully funded.

Look to the Future

It’s our sincere hope that the financial inequality same-sex couples endure will be eradicated in the future. Until then, they need to pay special attention to their finances to survive and thrive.

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