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The Evolving Landscape of LGBT Rights and Financial Considerations in the United States

financial planning for lgbt couples and individuals

In recent years, significant progress has been made in recognizing LGBT rights in the United States. However, the current status of LGBT rights remains complex and varied across different states. This article aims to provide an overview of the evolving landscape of LGBT rights and highlight the importance of financial services professionals understanding these rights to serve their LGBT clients better.

The Striking Down of DOMA

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark decision by striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This ruling allowed the federal government to recognize marriages of same-sex couples for the purposes of federal laws and programs. Subsequently, in 2015, the Supreme Court extended the recognition of the fundamental right to marriage to same-sex couples nationwide, effectively nullifying Section 2 of DOMA.

Remaining Challenges

While the recognition of the right to marriage was a significant milestone, there are still challenges and disparities in LGBT rights across the country. Currently, approximately 30 states lack explicit laws prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations, which includes government spaces and private businesses. Additionally, 16 states do not have protections against discrimination in hiring. The interpretation and inclusion of sexual identity within existing protections against discrimination based on sex also vary among states. Recent debates over bathroom bills have further highlighted the ongoing struggles for LGBT rights.

Financial Considerations and the Role of Financial Professionals

Financial services professionals have a crucial role in assisting LGBT clients in navigating the financial implications of their rights and the evolving legal landscape. Despite the availability of marriage for same-sex couples, many remain in domestic partnerships or have relied on legal documents to secure necessary protections. Therefore, understanding the legal nuances and changes in laws is essential when providing advisory services.

Key Considerations for Financial Professionals:

Legislation Impacting LGBT Financial Rights: Financial professionals must stay informed about legislative developments that may affect the financial rights of LGBT individuals, including changes in anti-discrimination laws and regulations.

Tax Treatment: The tax implications of same-sex marriage continue to evolve, and financial professionals should be knowledgeable about these changes to provide accurate advice on tax planning for LGBT clients.

Estate Planning: Estate planning is crucial for all individuals, including LGBT clients. Financial professionals should be well-versed in the specific considerations and legal requirements for LGBT clients, including the importance of wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations.

Benefit Inequality for LGBT Employees: Financial professionals can help LGBT clients understand the potential disparities in employee benefits, including retirement plans, health insurance, and survivor benefits. Providing guidance on navigating these inequalities is essential for comprehensive financial planning.

Inheritance Rules: Inheritance rules can vary based on state laws and marital status. Financial professionals should be familiar with the specific regulations to ensure that LGBT clients are aware of their rights and can make informed decisions regarding their estates.

Navigating LGBT Rights and Financial Considerations for Comprehensive Financial Planning

While significant progress has been made in the recognition of LGBT rights, further work remains to ensure full equality for all individuals. Financial services professionals have a unique opportunity to support their LGBT clients by understanding the current status of LGBT rights and providing tailored financial advice that considers the unique challenges faced by the LGBT community. By staying informed and addressing the specific financial considerations outlined above, financial professionals can play a crucial role in helping their LGBT clients achieve their financial goals and secure their future.

Want to discuss legal remedies as part of the financial planning services you provide your LGBT clients? My RIA Lawyer adds value to your services by answering legal questions and providing legal services directly to your LGBT clients. Contact us today to discuss solutions.

Author Bio

Leila Shaver is the Founder of My RIA Lawyer, a law firm that provides compliance and legal consulting for financial institutions. With extensive experience as a securities attorney and compliance expert, she has served as Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel to RIAs, BDs, and TAMPs with billions in assets under management.

Leila understands the challenges RIAs face and is committed to helping RIAs streamline their processes, mitigate risks, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. She received her Juris Doctor from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and is a West Georgia Young Lawyers’ Association member. Leila has received numerous accolades for her work, including the Carroll County Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award in 2017.

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