Personal finances can be particularly frightening for members of the LGBTQ+ community who have been marginalized and discriminated against by their families and by financial and governmental institutions.
According to an analysis by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, gay men earn about 69 cents on the dollar to their straight peers and lesbians about 89 cents on the dollar to their straight peers. And those wage and wealth disparities are larger for queer and trans people of color.
Still, financial advisors and planners can help LGBTQ+ people navigate the difficult financial issues they face.
Find a consultant who takes your needs seriously
For San Diego-based certified financial planner Marci Bair, financial planning begins with “creating a safe space for each and every client to share their life story with you.”
Bair wants to hear from clients what it was like growing up, how a client’s family spoke about money, who the client loves, and who they support financially. These details are especially important for LGBTQ+ people who may be alienated or unrecognized from their family of origin.
“If you don’t have your financial and legal home in order, your family’s wishes can flow in and make decisions that exclude the people you love and leave behind,” in the event of an emergency, illness or death, says CFP Cait Howerton .
Finding an advisor who is both culturally and financially competent can help you identify and achieve your financial and life goals, whether it’s paying off loan and student loan debt or financing your transition.
Related: Regardless of income bracket, LGBTQ investors have less confidence in retirement than their non-LGBTQ counterparts
Know that there is financial advice for every income level
It’s a common misconception that you have to be rich to need a financial planner. In fact, financial advice and planning can be a tool to help LGBTQ+ families and communities achieve their goals, protect them from challenges related to trans and queer personality and family safety, and (potentially) reduce wealth inequality.
While there are many more LGBTQ+ individuals than LGBTQ+ financial planners, community-aligned financial advisors and planners are immersed in the cultures and demographics they seek to serve. They can help you start small with paying off debt, financing a medical procedure, and investing for retirement.
Financial advisors help with everything from learning how to manage money and creating financial goals to accessing tax credits, public aid organizations, and managing debt. This is particularly important as members of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to live in poverty, experience homelessness and face discrimination and violence, including from their families of origin.
In the long run, a certified financial planner can help create a comprehensive financial plan. CFPs hold rigorous financial certifications and are fiduciaries, which means they have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of their clients.
Read: California bans state-funded travel to Florida and 4 other states due to anti-LGBTQ laws
Identify a financial ally for LGBTQ+
To find a financial advisor or financial planner in your area, you can start by looking for a financial advisor in your area at your local Chamber of Commerce or the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
However, if you’re new to travel or don’t feel comfortable using a planner you might encounter at the grocery store, online or remote financial planning can help you connect with a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally.
You can use the Find an Advisor tool on the XY Planning Network website to search for LGBTQIA. Or you can search Find a CFP Professional for subject areas such as “LGBTQIA people/couples”.
Finding a financial planner who understands specific financial needs and situations can greatly improve your financial prospects, according to Dasarte Yarnway, co-founder of the Onyx Network, a platform to support underrepresented financial advisors.
“Financially, you can go fast on your own, you can go far together,” says Yarnway of partnering with a financial advisor.
See also: Is the housing market in a recession? That’s what economists say
Make sure your wishes are taken into account
Once you’ve found a financial advisor or planner, the following financial, health, and legal tools can help ensure your wishes are met in the event of an emergency or death.
Living wills designate someone to act on your behalf in making medical decisions when you are no longer able to communicate, e.g. B. during end-of-life care.
A Power of Attorney allows someone else to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so, on matters ranging from healthcare and money management to placing trades on behalf of a company.
A will regulates matters such as guardianship of children, funeral arrangements and the division of assets.
A trust ensures that your wealth goes to the intended people (with tax benefits).
These are especially important for LGBTQ+ individuals and families who are not legally married, says Chicago-based CFP candidate Kiersten Peshek.
“If clients aren’t interested in getting married, which is perfectly acceptable in relationships, we need to think about estate planning: that they inherit the home, have the ability to make health care decisions, and make sure the law and family members do it.” don’t stand in the way,” says Peshek.
Formalizing your financial, health and other desires into law is especially important for children of LGBTQ+ people, who may not be biologically related to their parents.
More from NerdWallet
Alieza Durana writes for NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.