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Home & Real Estate: Mortgage advice for LGBT couples

Home ownership can be tricky for same-sex couples — especially since we don’t have automatic property inheritance rights if one partner dies, and we don’t have easy access to divorce courts to help us sort out disputes if we break up.

That means lesbian and gay couples need to take time to think through the best ways to structure home ownership and mortgages when purchasing a home, well before any problems arise.

We asked Mercedes Pasqualetti — general manager for HLM Financial Group, which offers accounting, tax, mortgage and financial planning — for advice on common scenarios involving same-sex couples and home ownership.

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Finance blog: Top 10 reasons to refinance to a low mortgage rate

Here are the top ten reasons to consider a refinance even if you currently have a low mortgage rate. Some of them are obvious and some are not.


You are in an adjustable rate loan that is either at a high rate now or has the potential to go higher.

You have a second mortgage or home equity line with a high rate and large enough balance that if refinanced into a new first mortgage would save you money.

You want to use your home equity to make improvements to your house that will increase its value or "livability."

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GA Spotlight: Celebrating 25 years, HLM Financial Group offers ‘one stop’ approach

HLM Financial Services

Described as a “one stop” shop for accounting, taxes, mortgages and other financial needs, HLM Financial Group is also a “family” business — in every sense of the word. The lesbian-owned company celebrates its 25th anniversary this month.

Lynn Pasqualetti, president and managing partner, founded HLM in 1986 after leaving her job at a CPA firm, inspired by a speaker at a tax seminar who encouraged attendees to embrace niche markets.

“All sorts of buzzers were going off in my head as I was thinking about the LGBT community and how my services would really allow same-sex couples and individuals an opportunity to be themselves in the already stressful environment of finances and tax related issues,” Pasqualetti says, noting that “while our client base is more diverse today, our client mix  is still made up of a majority of LGBT clients.”

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Finance: What do low interest rates mean for you?

The debt ceiling ... the U.S. Loses its triple A credit rating ... Earthquakes on the East Coast  is the world coming to an end? Probably ... (not) but with all these recent anomalies it certainly feels like we are in the Twilight Zone. It has been almost 3 years since the Fed cut its key rate to almost zero. August 9th, the central bank said rates are likely to remain there until at least mid 2013. Even though that doesn’t bode well for the stock market’s prognosis in the future, there are some pros and cons.

The benefits may not flow so easily. Consumers are showing few signs of wanting to borrow, bank and insurance companies profits are most likely going to suffer and with the stock market sliding, pensions and 401ks face years of low returns. For consumers, low rates mean cheap loans for everything from a new home to a new car. For the many baby boomers nearing the end of their working lives, low rates also deliver meager returns on fixed income investments. With the stock market well below it’s 2007 highs, that is going to be particularly painful.

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Finance: Documentation is crucial for sound lending

The U.S. economic news and projections are front and center in everyone’s mind these days. Though the markets are nervously reacting to the ever changing news, investors are still buying. Investors rushed to bu...
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Finance: The U-Haul is coming!

Okay, it is week three and the U-haul is loaded and almost to your drive-way. The house is in your name only and your new partner wants to be added to title. What does this mean for you from a tax perspective? If the mortgage is in your name only, but the house is titled to both parties, then the mortgage interest would be 100% deductible for only the person with the legal liability for the mortgage.

If you purchase a home together and both people are on the mortgage and the title, then the interest could be used for the best tax benefit. It is important to note that IRS knows EVERYTHING about you. Properly executing the interest deduction on Schedule A is imperative, or it is likely that you will receive a love letter from IRS.

Before obtaining joint assets it is extremely important to consult with a tax advisor and an attorney for a partnership agreement. There are pros and cons to major life decisions that should be explored while you still like each other!

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Finance: We can’t get married, so how do we handle our taxes?

Gay and lesbian couples have even more to think about when filing taxes. How do we split the mortgage interest and taxes, who claims the kids, what about charity and a whole slew of other issues? It is very important for couples to have a tax preparer who knows the extent of the tax code and how to use it.

For example, did you know that the tax code changed last year relating to children? Before, either parent on the birth certificate or adoption decree could claim the child, thus allowing the child to be on whichever return created the best tax benefit. Now, the person with the higher income must claim the child.

What does this mean to your family? It potentially gets rid of child tax credits and earned income credits for the lower income earning partner and potentially increases the combined tax liability (i.e.- you get less refund if you otherwise would have received one).