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Same-Sex Couples Face Financial Planning Hurdles: BMO

Same-sex couples face disadvantages when it comes to financial management, says a BMO study set for release this week.

The bank's report, which is timed to coincide with the start of WorldPride 2014 in Toronto this Friday, states that LGBTQ couples encounter barriers in areas such as workplace benefits and estate planning, writes The Wall Street Journal.

In many provinces, when someone dies without leaving a will, assets only pass to close blood relatives, and not to same-sex or common-law partners.

“This can be especially difficult if family members of the deceased partner did not support the same-sex relationship,” the BMO report said.

Things are further complicated by the fact that, in some cases, couples hide their relationship status.

BMO is therefore encouraging LGBTQ people to take their financial rights "more seriously." To help them, it is setting up wealth management services designed specifically for the community.

A 2012 study indicates there's plenty of money to be managed.

As many as one-third of LGBTQ people in Canada make more than $100,000 a year, with the whole LGBTQ consumer market estimated at a value of $90 to $100 billion, said a Protean Strategies report cited by The Toronto Star.

But Canada isn't the only country where legislation has created financial difficulties for same-sex couples.

Couples in other countries where gay rights are still being established sometimes face similar problems.

In the U.S., a Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) allowed Social Security benefits to be doled out to LGBTQ spouses, but payments were restricted to people who lived in states that recognized their marriages, BuzzFeed reported.

A fact sheet on the Social Security Administration's website indicates that it is working on the issue with the Department of Justice. In the meantime, it encourages people to apply for benefits "even if you aren’t sure you are eligible."

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