Give the Gift of Planning this Valentine’s Day

Montana LAT member Mary Stranahan, estate planning attorney Martha Goodloe, and CPA Norm Williamson at the recent “Leaving Your Legacy” panel discussion in Missoula.
Montana LAT member Mary Stranahan, estate planning attorney Martha Goodloe, and CPA Norm Williamson at the recent “Leaving Your Legacy” panel discussion in Missoula

There’s no better way to show your significant other how much you care than to craft a plan to ensure he or she is taken care of in the event on your death. If you live in Alaska, Idaho, or Montana-three of the 30 states that lack state relationship recognition for same-sex couples-it is especially important to seek expert advice when it comes to protecting your assets and leaving a philanthropic legacy for the causes you hold dear.

During Kris Hermanns’ recent visit to Montana, four Pride Foundation supporters with legal and financial expertise came together to offer advice to a small gathering of Missoula-area donors.  Financial advisors Anna Martello and Jim Royan joined CPA Norm Williamson, and estate planning attorney Martha Goodloe to offer their take on changes to the 2013 tax landscape and what same-sex couples in Montana need to pay particular attention to in planning for their futures.

Goodloe began the panel discussion with a personal anecdote. Her partner, Annie, was recently injured in a sledding accident and ended up in the ICU. With Annie incapacitated, Martha was responsible for filling out the necessary admittance paperwork. At one point, a hospital staff member asked her what authority she had to be signing on Annie’s behalf. “I have the paperwork; it’s at home,” Martha said, and thankfully, the staff member respected that. Even though they are mothers of twin 5th graders, own a home, and pay federal and state taxes, their commitment is not valid in the eyes of the government.

All the expert panelists agreed that it’s possible to plan around the majority of the laws that discriminate against same- sex couples, but doing so is expensive and requires finding legal and financial service providers that understand your unique needs. Involving charities in your planned giving is another way to reduce the negative impact of discriminatory laws, they said. Same-sex spouses are also prohibited from inheriting their partner’s social security benefits, and they can’t take advantage of the traditional IRA rollover provision provided to straight couples.

Some of the tools available for all couples wanting to leave a legacy to their favorite nonprofit while providing income or other tax benefits include:

IRA charitable rollover—President Obama signed into law an extension that allows people 70 ½ or older to give up to $100,000 from an IRA to a nonprofit organization tax-free.  For more info, visit this helpful Council on Foundations page.

Charitable remainder trusts—allows you to make a substantial charitable gift now while retaining a defined income stream from the donated assets. This tool allows you to sell appreciated assets in the trust without incurring immediate capital gains taxes.

Charitable gift annuity—allows you to make a gift of property or stock now and get immediate tax benefits while providing an income stream for you or loved ones for life.

Part of Pride Foundation’s mission is to inspire a culture of generosity in the LGBTQ community, and we have benefited greatly from our donors’ planned gifts and bequests. From Ric Weiland’s multi-million dollar bequest in 2008 to the schoolteacher who chooses Pride Foundation as a beneficiary on a $250,000 life insurance policy, planned gifts have the power to make a lasting impact on LGBTQ lives across the Northwest. If you’d like to learn more, contact Jody Waits, director of community giving, at

Lastly, have a happy Valentine’s Day. It may not be as traditionally romantic as a dozen roses or box of truffles, but setting up a meeting with your local LGBTQ-friendly attorney, CPA, and financial advisor might just be the most loving thing you can do for your partner in 2013.

Caitlin Copple is the Regional Development Organizer in Montana. To learn get involved as a volunteer, email her at

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