It’s estimated that by 2030 the population of LGBT+ Americans age 65 or older will exceed seven million. Yet research shows that LGBT+ seniors are twice as likely to be single, twice as likely to live alone and four times less likely to have children than their heterosexual peers.Disclosure 1
It’s true that the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling opened the door for LGBT+ couples to pursue lives that include legal marriage and children, and levelled the playing field in respect to shared benefits and final planning strategies. But for many older LGBT+ individuals, these newly conferred rights came too late to overcome inadequate retirement savings and little or no long-term care planning.
For most people, much of the care and support they receive later in life comes from spouses, children and other family members. But what happens when you’re 65+, have never been married, have no children, and may be estranged from family members? Who will step in to manage your medical needs and financial affairs if you become unable? Out of necessity, many in the LGBT+ community rely on informal families made up of close, trusted friends. And while these networks can provide much needed personal and emotional support, they have little to no authority to act on your behalf without proper legal documentation.
Taking action for tomorrow
If you want to ensure that someone you trust has the ability to make important medical and financial decision on your behalf if you’re incapacitated; or that your assets are distributed according to your wishes when you die, you need to have an attorney draft:
- A legal will;
- A healthcare proxy; and
- A financial power of attorney.
Without these three documents, in most instances the courts will appoint a next-of-kin guardian to assume the responsibilities. Not only could that person not have your best interests at heart regarding medical and long-term care matters, they can choose not to abide by your wishes as to how your assets should be distributed when you die.
You’ll also want to work closely with your Truist Wealth advisor to address your financial needs. They can assist you in formulating a plan to accelerate your retirement savings, align an investment strategy to your long-term goals, explore insurance solutions that could fund future long-term care needs, and help you to provide a meaningful legacy.
Additionally, there are a variety of online resources available to assist with specific LGBT+ aging issues and concerns—from locating LGBT+-friendly retirement communities and caregivers, to maximizing government benefits, and finding community volunteering opportunities. Two organizations of particular note are the National Resource Center on LGBT+ Aging (https://www.lgbtagingcenter.org ) and SAGE (https://www.sageusa.org ) which both publish a wide array of helpful studies, infographics, resource guides and checklists.
Rest assured that you’re not alone. The sheer number of LGBT+ Baby Boomers who are currently (or soon will be) retired is continuing to drive an expansion of and improvements in services and care options. What you need, however, is to put a plan in place—a plan that encompasses your entire financial, healthcare, and legacy needs for the future.