Alexia Venafra presented at a free workshop, entitled “Legal & Financial Planning Strategies for Same-Sex Couples and LGBTQ Individuals,” along with certified public accountant Kenneth M. Nussbaum. This interactive event took place at the Vermont Interactive Television studios (www.vtlink.org) and was sponsored by Vermont Freedom to Marry, which spearheaded the successful statewide effort to secure the freedom to marry for same-sex couples and continues to provide resources to Vermont individuals, couples, and families grappling with inequality on the federal level. Venafra and Nussbaum provided information and answered questions about wills, advance directives, financial powers of attorney, surrogacy and donor agreements, adoptions, income taxes, estate and gift taxes, and more.
Within Vermont same-sex couples have civil marriage equality, adoptive parent recognition, and other important safeguards. However, their families face a complicated and confusing legal patchwork across the US and abroad and remain vulnerable whenever they travel to places that lack these crucial legal recognitions. Furthermore, because of discriminatory federal laws like the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex spouses are denied over 1,000 federal benefits available to opposite-sex spouses, including Social Security benefits, job protection while caring for a sick spouse, and a multitude of tax-saving opportunities.
However, there are legal steps that committed same-sex couples can take to secure some of the protections and benefits that are automatically afforded to other married couples and families.
Venafra, who works with LGBTQ clients on estate planning and business succession planning, as well as on family law issues such as adoptions, prenuptials, and surrogacy and donor agreements, is also a Vermont Freedom to Marry board member. Nussbaum works extensively on financial issues specific to same-sex couples.