4 ways LGBTQ people can prepare for their final years


John Schneider

John Schneider

Blog author John Schneider

John Schneider has over 20 years of experience writing about money, with a focus on the queer community, being featured in Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, Time and more. With his husband and business partner, he co-owns Debt Free Guys and co-hosts the Queer Money podcast, a podcast about the financial nuances of the queer community.

Published October 5, 2017 | 5 min read

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In 1997, director (and actor) Christopher Reeve, released a movie that forever left an impression on me. His movie was “In the Gloaming” and starred Glenn Close, Whoopi Goldberg and Bridget Fonda. “In the Gloaming” was a drama about an AIDS patient returning to his estranged parents’ home to die. The movie was as much about the son dealing with his inevitable demise as his parents’ struggle to cope with their son’s sexual orientation.

Despite the tension, the son had a place to go to live out his final days. He had a roof over his head, food to eat and a nurse to take care of him and be his biggest ally. What struck me was that many LGBTQ people, even today, won’t have such an option.

MassMutual’s LGBTQ Financial Security survey from early 2017 showed that more than half of the sampling of 500 LGBTQ people surveyed think living for today is more important than preparing for tomorrow. That may provide a good quality of life today, but it’ll mean a reduced quality of life later.

I argue that with proper planning, we don’t have to choose between today and tomorrow.

Regardless of your age, start planning for retirement now

The old models of retirement planning are changing. Most workers can no longer rely solely on paper assets and pensions to support them in retirement. Traditional retirement savings are now more effective when they’re combined with cashflow creation.

A definition that stuck with me for years and that I often reference is Robert Kiyosaki’s definition of true wealth. That is, “true wealth is when you have enough investment income to subsidize your quality of life.” Earned income is compensation for physical and mental labor. Investment income is revenue and profit from our assets. Kiyosaki’s advice is to acquire more appreciating assets.

Preparing for retirement is easier the earlier we start, but many in our community, 70% according to MassMutual, admit to being behind in retirement savings. According to Todd Tresidder of the Financial Mentor, even those of us in our 40s or 50s can have a successful retirement with a plan that aligns with Kiyosaki’s definition of wealth.

Tresidder advises his clients to plan for retirement by capitalizing on paper assets — such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds — owning at least one business and investing in real estate. For many, the first recommendation will seem easy, the latter two harder. However, today’s economy is shaking things up.

Becoming an LGBTQ business owner or entrepreneur has never been easier. With today’s technology, the barriers to entry to becoming our own boss have never been lower. Anyone of any demographic can start their own business to provide a stream of income to subsidize their lifestyle and supplement their investment income.

Real estate investors don’t need to be landlords or fixers and flippers. With real estate crowdfunding, through firms such as RealtyShares and RealtyMogul, investors can be a percentage-owner in different kinds of real estate investments.

Consider purchasing long-term care insurance

Long-term care insurance isn’t exclusively for our gloaming years. It can kick in if a severe medical problem occurs at a younger age and last throughout our lifetime. However, long-term care isn’t typically needed until the final years of our lives when either in-home care or care in a skilled nursing facility are required.

Long-term care is expensive, and without long-term care insurance, we’ll have to rely on retirement savings. As we learned from MassMutual’s study, retirement savings for most of us will be inadequate.

The sooner we apply for long-term care insurance, the easier it’ll be to qualify and the cheaper it’ll be if we do qualify and vice versa. Those of us in our 40s and older should start considering whether we want long-term care insurance.

To be clear, even if we do qualify at a lower rate, we get the long-term care insurance for which we pay. Typically, long-term care insurance payments are distributed after care is given, deductibles met and reimbursements requested. Payments tend to be easier to receive with the higher premiums that come with higher-cost long-term care insurance.

Get a living will

Living wills specify how we want our remaining days to look if, for some reason, we can’t speak for ourselves. Living wills include medical wishes, such as “do not resuscitate” (DNR), and is where preferences for medical treatment, such as feeding tubes, respirators, dialysis and blood transfusions, are outlined.

Without such instructions outlined in advance of our incapacitation, these decisions will be left to our spouse, next of kin or the state. We should do our loved ones a favor and relieve them of as much stress as we can during our final days.

Archive important information

Wills, living wills, trusts, key contacts and other important information aren’t helpful if they can’t be found. This is why it’s important to archive all relevant documents in a logical and accessible location.

Some of my favorites personal electronic document storage platforms are BackBlaze, DocuBank and Carbonite for Home. These platforms let you store important documents, such as living wills, advanced healthcare directives, marriage licenses and more, making them easily accessible from almost anywhere in the world. Being able to access a marriage license, for example, may be helpful if your or your same-sex spouse is in a hospital that is unfamiliar with the legal benefits of marriage for same-sex couples.

We won’t have Superman around at the end of our lives when we need him most. Fortunately, with proper planning and investments made in the right protections, we can be the hero for ourselves and our loved ones. Of course, we don’t have to go it alone with such planning. Working with a financial planner may just save the day.

Image: Nicolas McComber