When John LeBlanc, principal and founder of Back Bay Financial Group in Boston, took his CFP certification course several years ago, his professor decided to skip the last chapter in the estate planning book—the chapter devoted to what LeBlanc laughingly calls the “unusual stuff,” which at the time, had to do with tax and estate planning for unmarried couples.
LeBlanc, who was already interested in that chapter and the topic, did read through it, and today, when changes in society have resulted in a whole lot more “unusual stuff,” he is one of those advisors who is well ahead of the game.
With clients in the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, LeBlanc has to consider the best tax outcomes for people in different kinds of social and family situations. He has to come up with the best tax options for gay and lesbian clients who frequently file joint state tax returns and single ones at the federal level, for instance, and for clients who have two homes and who frequently need to consider which state is best as their "primary" residence based on which states support or recognize their marriage.
“I have other clients who need to be careful which documents are kept current as they may have a still valid domestic partnership agreement in one state and be married in another and it's not always the state they live in,” LeBlanc says. “I never thought when taking my CFP that words like ‘second parent adoption’ and ‘surrogate mother’ would become commonplace when talking with clients.”
Despite the complexities that come with being a 21st century advisor, though, there are also rewards, LeBlanc says. Both he and his firm have embraced the idea that societal change is inevitable. LeBlanc believes that all other advisors have to embrace it, too, if they want to remain competitive and current.
These days, there is, fortunately, a good amount of discussion about alternative family structures and advisors who don’t know anything about these can find places to go to in order to find out more.
Organizations like Pride Planners, a group of financial professionals dedicated to raising awareness on the special needs of gay, lesbian and non-traditional couples and families, hosts twice-yearly conferences to educate advisors, and attendance at the events has been steadily growing, LeBlanc says.