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Financial Planning Insights for Same-Sex Couples

Brittany Taylor, CFP®


In 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality provided considerable financial clarity and security to LGBTQ+ couples.

Retirement planning

Legally married LGBTQ+ couples are entitled to spousal rights under qualified retirement plans, state intestacy laws, and Social Security benefits, which can significantly impact their retirement planning. Same-sex spouses now also have the option to roll over retirement account assets without being subjected to non-spouse beneficiary withdrawal guidelines, providing more control over the investment and tax implications of inheriting IRA and 401(k) assets.

Still, there may be challenges that arise with accessing Social Security benefits for LGBTQ+ couples who find it difficult to prove marital status due to disparities in the historical legality of same-sex marriage. Understanding how Social Security spousal and survivor benefits work is essential for LGBTQ+ couples to ensure they receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As with all married couples, we recommend communicating about money to make sure your financial objectives are aligned. Additionally, understanding tax laws and consulting tax advisors is crucial to navigate the complexities of retirement planning for same-sex couples. Some items to consider:

  • Engage with a financial advisor to help forge a unified financial plan that respects both partners’ visions.
  • Set shared financial goals, allowing for a harmonious financial future, and approach your finances as a team.
  • Start early. Given the expenses related to family planning, it will be important to balance saving for retirement with those additional costs.
  • Review and adjust your goals periodically to make sure they are still in line with your plan.
  • Consider maximizing your retirement savings by using Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), such as Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, Simple IRAs, SEP IRAs, and 401(k)s.
  • Obtain insurance coverage that provides for your spouse or family, including life insurance, disability coverage, and long-term care insurance.
  • Beyond your emergency savings, plan and save for life events such as a home purchase or family planning. This takes consideration of timelines to determine the best investment vehicle to build these assets.
Family planning and financial benefits

While the 2015 Supreme Court ruling solved some financial obstacles for legally married same-sex couples, one financial challenge still proves to be more costly. LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples face significant financial barriers when considering family-forming options due to advances in reproductive technologies and civil rights improvements. Studies showed that same-sex couples are four times more likely to adopt a child and six times more likely to become foster parents. This comes at a price:

  • Adoption costs can vary significantly, ranging from minimal costs with public agencies to more than $50,000 for intercountry adoptions through private agencies.
  • Surrogacy expenses range from $60,000 to $150,000, including compensation, legal, medical, and insurance fees.
  • Costs for in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, such as IUI, can add up to several thousand dollars per cycle, with IVF averaging around $50,000 for multiple cycles.

In addition to those expenditures, there may be challenges from states that resist same-sex marriages and those couples looking to adopt. In those cases, couples may incur the cost of going to another state, setting up at least temporary residency, and being matched with a birth family, agency, and attorney in that state. It is crucial for LGBTQ+ families to establish a robust, lawful plan due to varying state rules on parental rights and what can be unstable laws and benefits. Domestic partner benefits, including paid parental leave and gender transition support, can also support LGBTQ+ families.

In summary we have provided some Frequently Asked Questions for same-sex couples. Domestic partnership agreements are important for unmarried couples to outline financial expectations and protect assets.

Are there specific tax benefits for same-sex spouses filing jointly?

Yes, same-sex spouses filing jointly can access various tax benefits, such as combining gift tax exemptions, potentially avoiding capital gains tax on home sales, and qualifying for health insurance premium tax credits. It is important to consult a tax professional to take full advantage of these benefits.

Can same-sex spouses roll over retirement account assets to each other without taxes?

Yes, same-sex spouses can roll over retirement account assets to each other without taxes, giving them more control over their investments and tax implications.

What are important estate planning documents for same-sex couples?

Important estate planning documents for same-sex couples include wills, health care power of attorney, durable financial power of attorney, and HIPAA privacy authorization forms. Having a comprehensive estate plan is crucial to protect assets and interests. These documents help ensure that personal wishes are respected and facilitate effective estate management. It is also important to review existing estate planning documents to ensure they reflect current marital status and take advantage of new legal protections.

How does health insurance coverage work for same-sex spouses?

Same-sex spouses are guaranteed the same health coverage and protections against discrimination as opposite-sex spouses under U.S. insurance policies, regardless of residence or policy execution location. Therefore, they are entitled to equal benefits and cannot be discriminated against.

For same-sex couples, the support of a well-versed financial professional is critical. We’re here to help. For more information, contact us at (814) 459-1116 or email me at


The information included in this document is for general, informational purposes only. It does not contain any investment advice and does not address any individual facts and circumstances. As such, it cannot be relied on as providing any investment advice. If you would like investment advice regarding your specific facts and circumstances, please contact a qualified financial advisor.

The historical and current information as to rules, laws, guidelines or benefits contained in this document is a summary of information obtained from or prepared by other sources. It has not been independently verified, but was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. HBKS® Wealth Advisors does not guarantee the accuracy of this information and does not assume liability for any errors in information obtained from or prepared by these other sources.

HBKS® Wealth Advisors is not a legal or accounting firm, and does not render legal, accounting or tax advice. You should contact an attorney or CPA if you wish to receive legal, accounting or tax advice.

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