A new year brings a chance for new goals…like getting your money situation in order! But the LGBTQ+ community often faces different challenges when it comes to long-term financial planning.
Janice Cackowski, the founder of Centry Financial Advisors in Willoughby, has been a Certified Financial Planner since 2008, working with numerous LGBTQ+ individuals and couples to help them plan for a more secure financial future.
Her top piece of advice for her LGBTQ+ clients? “Find a financial planner that you feel safe with. Somebody who’s going to allow you to be your full self.”
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Cackowski about LGBTQ+ financial planning in 2021, everything from financial advice for both married and unmarried couples, to the high cost of family planning, to how we all can achieve that dream of long-term financial stability.
What are some of the things the LGBTQ+ community should consider when they’re thinking about financial planning?
We are almost six years into marriage equality. For clients who are married, it is still fairly new in the United States, and many LGBTQ+ couples have not planned for their financial future. Like any married couple, planning appropriately can help save taxes today or in the future.
Planning can help better prepare you for any large future purchases like buying a home, paying for education for a child, or—specifically for the LGBTQ+ community—planning financially for having a family. Most LGBTQ+ couples are not having a family in the “traditional” way. It costs money to do that, right? So, you have to plan for that. For married couples, just figuring out how to build and protect assets, save for retirement, and tax planning are important.
How about for unmarried couples?
There are a lot more concerns for unmarried couples. If you’re an unmarried couple, there are no government protection for each other. If you were to pass away, and there’s no beneficiary named on your IRA or your 401k, assets are not going to pass to your significant other; they’re going to pass to your family members. So, planning is really important. There can also be issues for owning bank accounts together or owning real estate jointly, especially if you’re together now and you split up later.
I’ve had issues where the extended families aren’t in agreement with the person’s identity, or maybe they just don’t like the significant other. I worked with a couple where one of the parties passed away, and beneficiaries were not named appropriately. The gentleman that passed away owned the home they were living in, and his partner got pushed out of his home. He didn’t get any inheritance from his partner because they didn’t plan significantly.
You mentioned the financial cost of family planning. Can you talk more about that?
When my husband and I had a child, some financial things came with that, but as far as physically having the child, there was nothing financial about it. I didn’t have to find a surrogate to have my child. I didn’t have to get a sperm donation and pay for that and get my egg fertilized. Those things cost money. And it’s quite significant. And a lot of health insurance coverage don’t cover that type of stuff. So, planning for that type of expense is important to do.
What’s the number one piece of advice you’d offer to anyone in the LGBTQ+ community looking for a financial planner in 2021?
My biggest suggestion for anybody, but especially the LGBTQ+ community, is to find a financial planner that you feel safe with, somebody who’s going to allow you to be your full self. Because if a financial planner is going to help guide you without understanding the true dynamics with your family or significant other, proper planning really can’t be put in place. We, the financial planners, need to understand who you are and who are the people you want to care for. And you, the client, need to be able to disclose that comfortably.
Research financial planners who work with the LGBTQ+ community. Then you can be yourself and talk about your true family and true goals without fear of discrimination.
Are there resources for people to find and compare LGBTQ-friendly financial planners?
Yes. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards website is a resource for people to look up financial planners. They can find Certified Financial Planners in their area by clicking “Find a CFP Professional” and typing in their zip code. You can search for planners that work with the LGBTQ+ community, or even divorcees or women only.
Another resource is the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. There’s also a way to find an advisor by your location, and it allows you to dig in a little bit more, too. This website is specific to fee-only advisors. These are people who will work with you and charge you a fee that’s fully disclosed. They don’t earn commissions, and they’re not going to try to push products to earn commissions. So, to me, that’s an important thing.