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Adviser: Time's now for LGBT financial planning

'Now's the time,' expert says

By Georgia Garvey @gcgarvey

RedEye

3:28 PM CDT, October 22, 2012

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If you're in a committed same-sex relationship, you may be hoping for an end to laws prohibiting gay marriage.

But in the meantime, there are some ways for LGBT couples to protect themselves and plan for their financial futures together, says a Chicago-based expert on the topic.

"Depending on who wins this election, there is very polarizing potential for which way this could go," said Michael Collins, vice president in private wealth management for Robert W. Baird & Co. in the Loop. He urges LGBT couples to get on the ball and make plans including wills and partnership documents. "It's time. Get out there and get this taken care of."

Collins is also an accredited domestic partner adviser and says couples may not be prepared for the unexpected.

If you're on vacation or away on business, he said, in a location where your civil union isn't recognized, visiting an injured partner or making medical decisions for each other may be impossible.

There are also inheritance issues that can arise, even for couples who aren't super-rich. Maybe you just want your partner to be able to live in the home you've made together after you're gone.

"We're hearing and dealing with absolute horror stories," Collins said. One-half of a pair might die unexpectedly and then the other is out on the street, despite long and established relationships. "If the person that dies, their family didn't support [the relationship], it's 10 times nastier than a divorce."

You don't have to be loaded to need a will, he said. Anyone who's in a same-sex relationship can benefit from some planning and advice.

"You don't need to be afraid that you don't have enough money to get help," Collins said.

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