June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and as we come to the end of monthlong celebrations, it is also important to be aware of the resources available to you with regard to personal finance and estate planning. This Pride Month, it is important you review all the financial rights available to you.
While there has been a lot of progress over the past few years in this field, there still exist gaps that make it difficult for people in the LGBTQ+ community to gain access to such services. We’ve put together a list of points that can help you explore your financial rights this Pride Month:
Financial rights you should know
With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, you have the right to add your same-sex spouse to your health insurance provided to you by your employer.
Surviving same-sex spouses are eligible for income for Social Security benefits, employer pension benefits, veterans’ benefits, and other such benefits. When two spouses are planning for the needs of a surviving spouse, these resources can be of immense help. To get access to these benefits, you should complete all your marriage forms and documentation and submit them to the relevant organizations.
Estate tax planning
Same-sex married couples can get access to federal estate tax planning strategies such as estate exemptions and portability. In addition to this, if both spouses are citizens of the United States, they can enjoy the option of unlimited spousal gifting abilities as well.
If you’re already planning for retirement, there are various solutions available to fund your retirement goals. To avoid complications and unwanted consequences, it is important to understand the rights and protections available to same-sex couples, and the nuances of each of these solutions. Take, for example, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. This act contains guidelines for spouses being able to access certain retirement accounts sponsored by the employer, including 401(k), 403(b), and pension plans, at the time of marriage or divorce.
Health and medicines
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act made adding your same-sex spouse to your employer-provided health insurance a right.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees of covered employers are entitled to take unpaid, job-protected leave. This is when it comes to specified family members and certain medical reasons. These include instances such as caring for a spouse. The group health insurance coverage will continue as usual under the same terms and conditions without the employee’s leave impacting it in any way. It will be as if the employee had not taken leave.
If a situation should arise where you are unable to make your own financial and medical decisions, it is important to appoint someone else. They should be someone responsible enough to make these decisions for you. Irrespective of your marital status, you can fill up legal documents that describe the person you authorize to make decisions on your behalf in such circumstances. The person you choose doesn’t necessarily have to be your spouse. But, while going through this process, you must take the help of competent legal counsel. They will help put your wishes and demands in writing in the right manner.
Parental and adoptions laws
For same sex couples, it can be daunting to face parental and adoption laws while planning an adoption. All states allow married couples, civil unions and couples in recognized domestic partnerships to jointly adopt a child. However, there are states that don’t allow for second-parent adoption among couples who are in relationships that are not legally recognized in the state.
A second-parent adoption is a process where a second parent can adopt a child without the first losing parental rights. This process, therefore, allows the child to have two legal parents. Irrespective of whether you are allowed to adopt as a second parent, if it is your desire that you should leave certain assets to your children, it is important to make sure that your strategy for estate planning is formulated accordingly.
All said and done, exercising your right to equality can sometimes come at a cost. In some states, your employer can still fire you on the basis of your sexual orientation. This is the hard truth we live with, unfortunately. This could materialize when you want to use employer benefits such as spousal life insurance and health care benefits.
No matter what the situation, professional legal counsel with specific expertise in helping the LGBTQ+ community plan their financial and other needs is your best bet. They can offer the right guidance on how to balance your privacy. They can also help you take advantage of and ensure your legal rights. At the end of this Pride Month, we hope you are one step closer to knowing your financial rights better.