Brentwood-based Capital Financial Group has a message for the same-sex couples in Tennessee who do not think they have to plan for their financial future on their own: they don’t.
“The biggest eye opener for me was realizing that so many same-sex couples don’t realize the options that they have,” says Caleb Ross, financial services professional. “They automatically assume [because same-sex marriage isn’t legal] it just has to be separate, that they’re just stuck this way and that things will just not happen the way they want it to happen. The thing is that’s just not true at all.”
Ross explains that with current tax code, there are some things in planning a same-sex couple’s financial future that cannot be overcome, but there are many things that can be.
“Financially speaking, a lot of it involves what we would call estate-planning issues or distribution of wealth,” he says. “Making sure that documents are set up a certain way so that if something happens to one partner all the financial decisions are transferred to the partner they want it to get transferred to and making sure money is transferred to the person they want it to go to.”
The team at Capital Financial Group make sure all of a client’s assets and all his wishes flow from himself to whomever he wants them to, such as his spouse, even though they are may not legally be considered spouses. There are some other obstacles that the group helps GLBT couples navigate as well.
“With mutual funds, there are breakpoints issued to legally married couples and a lot of mutual funds you deal with will issue breakpoints to same-sex partners,” Ross says. “It has to do with local laws, essentially. Since Tennessee has none, there’s been a lot of grey area with that. It’s not that the breakpoints can’t be had; we’ve not been told: ‘No, you can’t have it.’ It’s been more of a case of the request never being asked before.
“The base line of it all is to make sure that a couple’s getting all that they can possibly get from the system, to make it as easy as possible on paper to be like a married couple, and to make sure that their wishes as a same-sex couple are fulfilled.”
Capital Financial Group Sales Manager Fanci Worthington feels what sets her and Ross’s team apart is that they do not treat their clients in same-sex relationships like they do their opposite-sex, married clients.
“The thing of it is, of course, everyone is the same,” Worthington says. “We are all the same, we just have different orientations. However, when it comes to financial planning, the needs are totally different. I think addressing those needs with a very thoughtful approach and being able to make sure that everything is accomplished in the way that the couple wants to see it accomplished takes not treating everybody the same.”
Worthington adds that financial planners need to be trained to have a full understanding of what is happening when a same-sex couple wants to plan their future when the law does not recognize the partnership. She also considers what to do when the relationship is recognized as a legal entity, so no matter what happens, she, Ross, and the rest of the team are ready.
“It would be a very smooth transition,” Ross says of a couple’s financial plan should same-sex marriage become legalized. “The stuff that we would do for people in a same-sex couple environment is going to be the same thing we’d do for a legally married couple. It’s just that same-sex couples have to do it where legally married couples get a lot of benefits by default by law.”
Everything Capital Financial sets up are things they would do for a married couple to solidify the financial plan, he explains, but if a same-sex couple does not do it, they have no recourse. Their position would already be solidified, and then the changes that happen after the relationship is legally recognized would be beneficial. The same-sex couple would then get tax breaks and the like, but the rest of the changes to their financial planning would be rather minor.
“And those changes would just enhance what we’ve already put in place,” Worthington says. “It takes just a little bit of thought to put into it, but then you’ve got a seamless transition no matter what happens. If somebody gets hurt, or if they die early, whatever it is, we’ve got a seamless transition, no matter what played out of all those scenarios.”
“The reason we exist is so that it is easy for you,” Ross says in explaining why working with a financial planner is important for all couples, not just homosexual ones. “A lot of people aren’t completely sure of what a comprehensive financial planning firm does. They might have relationships with a bank or a CPA or somebody like that, but that doesn’t necessarily enter the realm of what we do. We work with their CPA, and we work with their banker. Whoever it is, we’re just there to add to that and give an overall strategy to everything the couple is already doing, adding to what they already have.”
Ross and Worthington still advise same-sex couples to set up living wills and powers of attorney, however. Then, someone’s partner is treated how he wants him to be treated, just like any other spouse.
For more information on the team at Capital Financial Group, log on to the company’s website at capitalfinancialgroupllc.com.