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VOL. 128 | NO. 227 | Wednesday, November 20, 2013

DOMA Repeal Headlines Planning Discussion

ERINN FIGG | Special to The Daily News

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Financial adviser Brian Douglas has the hard-earned designations you’d expect to find in a professional with nearly a decade of experience in the industry, including certified financial planner, chartered retirement planning counselor and, added this year, Five Star Wealth Manager award winner.


However, Douglas holds one designation that few, if any, other financial planners in the Mid-South currently can boast. He is an accredited domestic partnership adviser (ADPA), a financial adviser trained and certified on key issues such as wealth transfers, federal taxation, retirement planning and end-of-life needs for same-sex couples and domestic partners.

“To me, it’s very important to serve the LGBT community in an area where they don’t have a great deal of professional financial assistance,” said Douglas, of Douglas & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. “Non-traditional couples are a vastly underserved market and one that’s not understood by many traditional financial advisers, particularly in the South.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 20, Douglas and other Memphis financial professionals will share their expertise and answer questions during a free discussion “The Repeal of DOMA and You” at 6:15 p.m. at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Memphis, 5069 Sanderlin Ave.

During the event, Memphis attorney Susan Mackenzie and Bethany Huffman, certified public accountant, will join Douglas in discussing and answering questions about key changes resulting from the U.S. Supreme Court’s July 26 repeal of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Previously, same-sex couples were deprived of the 1,138 protections and responsibilities extended to traditional married couples at the federal level. Under the new ruling, all married couples, including same-sex couples, will be treated as married by the federal government.

“Social security, military retirement funds, government pension funds – these will all be available to same-sex couples. They can be passed on to a surviving partner now,” Douglas said. “However, it’s still kind of an evolving process.”

For legally married same-sex couples, along with their widows or widowers, who live in a state such as Tennessee that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, things can get a little tricky, Douglas said. In Tennessee, same-sex couples still aren’t entitled to certain benefits.

That’s why he hopes this information session will prove helpful to people with questions, he said. Along with Mackenzie and Huffman, he’ll cover the issues Tennessee same-sex couples face even after the Supreme Court’s decision and discuss how the changes will affect them.

“Most folks know the repeal has taken place, but they don’t really know the effect it will have on their personal lives,” he said. “This discussion will help single and partnered LGBT participants to learn more about what’s happening with the federal government and the impact it will have on them personally.”

For instance, he advises his same-sex married clients to go back and look at their taxes for the past three years to see if they now should re-file them for married benefits. Beneficiary designations, wills and estate planning also are areas that same-sex married couples will need to examine in a new light, among several other topics.

Most importantly, Douglas said he wants same-sex and nontraditional couples to feel comfortable, accepted and understood in the arena of financial planning. It’s the primary reason he got his ADPA designation, he said. Regarding the Wednesday session, he makes one final promise.

“It’s just an informative session,” he said. “We’re not going to try to sell you one thing.”

The DOMA repeal discussion is one of several free public information sessions that Douglas & Associates frequently sponsors. For more information on the Wednesday event, as well as future ones, visit ameripriseadvisors.com/brian.k.douglas.

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