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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Citywide Pride: Speakers lend financial-planning tips
by Amy Wooten
2008-06-25

This article shared 2568 times since Wed Jun 25, 2008
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Many lesbian and gay people are in the dark when it comes to their finances.

At a recent Citywide Pride event hosted by Merrill Lynch and the law offices of McDermott, Will & Emery, 227 W. Monroe, 'Out in the Workplace, but in the Dark About Your Financial Future? Ten Things You Need to Know about Employee Benefits and Financial Planning,' speakers gave useful tips for the benefit of both employer and employee.

During the first portion of the presentation, McDermott, Will & Emery's Todd Solomon provided helpful hints for employers about domestic partner benefits. Although many big companies now offer such benefits, Solomon warned that they need to make sure they are doing all they can be doing for their LGBT employees.

For instance, employers need to make sure that the cost of domestic partner benefits aren't higher than the cost for spouses. They also need to make sure they don't require too much proof of domestic partnership, considering most companies don't even ask for a marriage license for their straight employees. Companies who provide domestic partner benefits also need to check that they are applying the best policies and being fair and equal, such as equalizing parental leave policies and ensuring drug plans don't have transgender exclusions.

In addition to making sure benefits are friendly to all employees­, companies should also apply best practices by creating LGBT networks, partnering with other employee resource groups and supporting the LGBT community, Solomon added.

Until the federal government recognizes same-sex relationships, companies need to make sure they are treating their employees and their employee's partners equally, Solomon said. He is looking forward to possibly having civil unions in Illinois. Although it won't have an impact on federal benefits, it will clue more local companies into the needs of their LGBT employees. 'It will do a lot for bringing this higher up on the radar screen for Illinois companies,' Solomon said. 'It will continue to bring attention to the issue.'

For the second portion of the afternoon presentation, Merrill Lynch discussed financial planning for lesbians and gays.

Merrill Lynch's senior financial advisor Nora Winsberg called LGBT financial needs 'special needs' due to their complexity. 'We don't have equal rights a simple marriage contract would convey,' Winsberg said.

According to Winsberg, financial matters for LGBT people are very complex. She advises that lesbians and gay men work with an expert, such as a financial advisor or attorney, for lifetime planning such as financial planning, wills and trusts, child care and adoption agreements and more.

Until same-sex marriage is recognized at the federal level, unfortunately life planning can be incredibly confusing and difficult for gays and lesbians, she said. Among some tips she had to offer: double check the titling of your assets ( is your ex-boyfriend on there? ) ; continually update your beneficiary designations; consider rolling over your 401 ( k ) assets into a traditional IRA; make sure you have all the necessay documents for estate planning ( sich as a living trust and will, HIPPA releases, a domestic partnership registration, etc. ) .


This article shared 2568 times since Wed Jun 25, 2008
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