Retiring Gay: Funding Gay Retirement

This series, Retiring Gay, primarily considers the financial steps to successful retirement. However, preparing emotionally for retirement is equally important to a happy, fulfilling and successful retirement. Planning for retirement is your opportunity to reconsider day to day living. Insurance, investments, spending, savings, socializing, residence and many other considerations change. Reaching retirement with a well executed plan makes your transition to a post work life easier and more fulfilling.

Approaching retirement can be scary with its litany of changes. With age differences in the family one might be retiring while the other is still in their prime earning years. Choosing a place to live in retirement, and making the move are stressful times. Deciding how much money is required for a comfortable retirement remains a big unknown. Providing for health care between an employers group plan and Medicare has to be considered.

Yet each challenge simply requires thought and a plan.

Those LGBT retirees lucky enough to have a pension and retirement health coverage will often bemoan the pittance they receive monthly. To those I retort; do you know what you have?

Here’s why: take the amount of your pension plus the value of your health coverage and enter it into a reverse future value calculator. If you receive benefits worth $2,000 per month you would have to have over $500,000 in wealth to generate the same $2,000 per month at today’s miserly interest rates.

Consider those who do not have the benefit of pension or health coverage. The good news is that they are forced to make a plan to create wealth sufficient to provide similar benefits. Unlike a pensioner, they are in control of their retirement funding and not reliant on the benevolence of a corporation or tax collecting authority to honor their often generations old commitments. That could be a particularly valuable benefit in the current uncertain economic climate.

How much income do you need to retire? Though no one can give you the exact number the amount is rather simple to calculate. Much of the calculation is predicated on the life style you intend to live in retirement. The major change is that saving for retirement is no longer required, nor are the costs associated with employment such as the commute, office lunches and work related clothing. My experience has been that I spend about what I spent while working; only now I spend it on different things.

Approaching retirement is a good time to begin to spend as if retired. Retirement is a time for disposing of things, not acquiring them. Retirement is for leisure, not chasing the next great technology. Planning for retirement includes considering how life will be different the day after you no longer report to work.

Those who receive pensions should check with their provider for survivor benefits for LGBT partners. Some provide them, typically with a reduced monthly benefit during the live of the pensioner; some will also provide partner health benefits. Knowing your options both during your lifetime and for your survivor will allow you to maximize your benefits.

Sadly, with the current mix and lack of legal protections across every governmental level LGBT persons can not rely on settled law to serve them in the event of the passing of a partner.

For assets outside of pension plans LGBT persons are best served by a qualified estate advisor. Those pesky relatives will stick their noses in when they smell money; nothing changes things like money.

A trust may be the answer. Trust documents require a trustee. In addition, your spouse can be a co-trustee of your trust. In the event of the passing of either the survivor is the sole trustee. The arrangement avoids the probate process and removes any opportunity for a frisky family member to reach out a sticky little hand.

Some assets cannot be re-titled to a trust, such as 401K, Roth and IRA accounts. These accounts simply require a beneficiary and naming your spouse as beneficiary protects those accounts from intrusive family members. Inheritance rules related to self managed retirement accounts are changing and your estate advisor is best served to advise you on the use, management and timing of your self managed retirement accounts to minimize tax consequences both during your lifetime and for your survivor.

Remember, there is no reason to wait until you are a gray gay to plan. Now is the time because you never know when the time is up.

Missed a week? Don’t worry. Catch up at SFGN.com/RetiringGay to follow the series online. 

Ric Reily is the author of two books, Money Is The Root Of All - Skip The Debt Habit, and Gregory’s Hero. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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