It is the opinion of some that our LGBT community is facing a retirement crises that may be different than that of others in Orange County and elsewhere. Even considering the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal in California and several other states, it is still important for the LGBT community to consider the unique estate planning issues that they will likely face. This includes addressing the potential retirement issues that they may face in their senior years. Let our Orange County LGBT estate planning attorneys explain some of the considerations that are important for your estate plan.
Recent survey demonstrates some of the concerns of our LGBT community
The group Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), the largest group in our country whose goal is to improve the lives of LGBT seniors, conducted a survey along with Harris Poll. They surveyed 2,376 individuals age 45 to 75, of those individual 1,857 are LGBT citizens. The survey showed that the majority of LGBT seniors (51%) are extremely concerned about whether they will have sufficient money to support themselves during retirement, whereas only 36% of non-LGBT individuals were that concerned.
The survey also uncovered that more LGBT seniors were very concerned about being capable of handling unexpected, major emergencies during retirement. More of them also reported that their support system had become smaller over time. Many are also concerned that work or volunteer opportunities will not be available to them during retirement because of their sexual orientation.
These widely-held concerns are founded in historical discrimination
The reality is that financial stability during retirement is a greater concern for the LGBT community because, as research has shown, LGBT seniors have a higher poverty rate. It is the opinion of some that this fact is due to a lifetime of discrimination making them more likely to have a more insubstantial work history and less savings accumulated.
Another reason may be that the majority of LGBT seniors do not have the advantage of significant savings from two people over a lifetime, as married couples do. With legalized same-sex marriage being a relatively new reality, most LGBT couples who are older will not enjoy this advantage. Similarly, same-sex couples have historically raced more adverse treatment with regard to senior housing, which puts them in a less advantageous position.
The effects of housing discrimination against LGBT seniors
According to the results of an investigation by the Equal Rights Center, 48% same-sex couples who sought senior housing in 10 different states experienced some form of adverse treatment. Either they were given fewer options on available units or they were quoted higher fees with more prohibitive application requirements. While there are a few same-sex retirement communities in the United States, and that number is growing, the need for fairness in housing options cannot be overlooked.
Retirement advice from Orange County LGBT estate planning attorneys
One of the most important pieces of advice that our LGBT estate planning attorneys can give is to start your retirement planning as early as possible. An estate planning attorney can certainly help with that, but you should find one that has knowledge and experience regarding the unique issues that the LGBT community faces. Your estate planning tools and strategies should be tailored to your specific needs.
One thing to remember about Social Security benefits
Most of us are concerned about the certainty or stability of the government’s Social Security system. First, you need to understand a little about how the system works. All while you are employed, you are making contributions to Social Security through the FICA taxes that are automatically withheld from your pay check. FICA stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act. These contributions go towards paying Social Security benefits for other workers when it is their time to retire. Once it is your time to retire, you will receive benefits from the system, as well, based on your level of contributions.
Social Security benefits are unlikely to be sufficient
There was a time when an individual’s retirement was financed entirely by employers and government benefits. Now, though, with the reservations people now have about relying on Social Security, it is more necessary than ever for individuals to take retirement planning into their own hands. Even if there will be social security benefits available for you, they will likely be insufficient for providing a comfortable retirement. The purpose of the social security program is to provide only the bare minimum standard of living during retirement.
If you have questions regarding LGBT retirement or estate planning, trust contests, or any other trust administration issues, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us in Los Angeles at (310) 337-7696, and in Orange County at (562) 346-3209.
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