Posted on 09 November 2012
By Mark Miller
Financial planners see affluent gay and lesbian clients as an important growth market. But the LGBT community faces unique financial planning challenges – and the ground is shifting rapidly, especially where same-sex couples are concerned.
A growing number of states recognize same sex marriage and civil unions, but the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) raises an array of problems for financial planners and their LGBT clients. DOMA prevents equal treatment for same-sex married couples on a range of important benefits and legal protections, because it defines the word “spouse” as applying only to different-sex married couples for any purpose involving interpretation of federal law.
That definition affects everything from estate planning and asset titling to Social Security and Medicare benefits. The Supreme Court is expected to consider DOMA’s constitutionality soon, and two federal appeals courts already have struck down the law.
Planners have developed an array of responses to help clients cope with the problems created by DOMA. And a growing list of big players in wealth management services are targeting affluent LGBT clients, including Northern Trust, Wells Fargo, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.
Learn more in my column this month at WealthManagement.com.