Wealth Management for the Nontraditional Family

During the last decade a major transformation of the American family has been underway. The traditional concept of head of household with one non-working spouse has been replaced by the economic necessity of both partners working.

In addition, along with the increasing rates of divorce, a single parent head of household has become more the norm than the exception. Recent evolution in acceptance of same-sex partnerships has further broadened the definition of a nontraditional family.

Recognition of unmarried couples, gay and straight, same-sex married couples and the children they raise together have moved us all towards a modern definition of family. Income tax filings, inheritance taxation, social security, employee benefits and other matters affect both traditional and nontraditional families. All have long-term implications for the economic and emotional health of these families.

Wealth management for the nontraditional family, when done correctly, examines a multitude of issues necessary for thoughtful long-term financial planning. While the definition of family has changed, the need for a comprehensive financial plan remains the same.

Long-term investment objectives, providing for retirement, children’s education, and health care needs, all of these are important upfront considerations. In same-sex partnerships, however, one touchy subject is often not addressed.

“Most same-sex partnerships, married or not, fail to take a global view of each other’s assets,” says Craig Ferree of Sequoia Wealth, a wealth management firm located in Palm Springs, California. “That doesn’t mean actually combining your assets. At least on paper ask yourself whether your investments are working together or working at odds. Separating assets is fine, but for the long have you optimized your portfolios to reach your goals?”

“And never,” he says, “underestimate the importance of proper estate planning. It’s something you do today, not next week. This is especially true when children are involved.”