Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Same-sex estate financial planning is big business
On the way back from New Orleans after a long weekend in February, 2006 I picked up a copy of Robb Report Worth. On page 100 there is a detailed article by Frederick P. Gabriel-Deveau, "The Puzzling Problem of Same-Sex Estates: Gay couples confront a host of unique challenges when crafting their estate plans." The summary reads "There are also legal ambiguities that family members of the deceased can exploit to challenge the distribution of assets to the other partner. Careful planning, using iron-clad wills and, where appropriate, trusts, can ensure same-sex couples achieve their estate planning goals."
The article discusses DOMA (the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act) and how it prevents the extension of benefits and protections to gay couples. This seems to niche present business opportunities for lawyers and financial planners, to duplicate the 1200 marriage rights granted under federal law. A surviving gay partner can face federal taxes of up to 48% on estates over $1.5 million. The trust attorney discussed in the article is Richard C. Milstein, from Miami.
In June 2005 I considered the possibility of becoming an agent for New York Life. The application form emphatically stressed that the company does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in placing agents and financial planners. However, a new agent is not allowed to have any outside income for three years (at least if he or she takes the training bonus). That was a show-stopper. The business also requires heavy personal (not web based!) social networking to get new clients, something that I do not do, and a lifestyle paradigm that fits those raising families more than singles (although it would fit same-sex families). So I did not go on with it. In 2003, I had looked at a post-retirement business opportunity with Primevest. Again, the twelve years as a computer person in life insurance applications had interested them. The paradigm started with converting families from whole life to term, and then could move onto other kinds of financial planning. Primevest did show up at a LGBT job fair in Minneapolis about that time. One financial planning issue that would interest me in all of this is long-term care insurance. But you can see where this is heading. Financial planning and agenting appeals to people with heavy social networks that they can manipulate through their positions in the "community", not for bookish introverts like me. But, they could work in the gay community if the mass of gay couples, especially those raising children, were large enough in a geographical area. But gay marriage and gay adoption then become pertinent issues again, and the political fight continues.