Helping Families Deal with LGBTQ Issues

Advisors to high-net-worth individuals and family offices need to adjust their approach when assisting families with LGBTQ members. Because societies have historically discriminated against LGBTQ individuals, advisors need to have emotional intelligence so these clients can honestly and openly discuss their needs. They may also need to address conflict between the LGBTQ individuals and other family members. The panelists will discuss how advisors can assess and improve their own approaches to helping these families.

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Vanessa Kanaga serves as CEO of InterActive Legal. Vanessa received her J.D. from Cornell Law School and holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Wichita State University, as well as an Advanced Professional Certificate from New York University School of Law. She is licensed in New York, Kansas, and Arizona, and currently lives in Arizona. Prior to joining InterActive Legal in 2013, Vanessa practiced in New York, at Milbank LLP and Moses & Singer LLP, and in Kansas, at Hinkle Law Firm, LLC. She has experience in a range of estate planning matters, including high net worth tax planning and asset protection planning.

In her role as CEO, Vanessa oversees strategic planning and development of InterActive Legal services and solutions, working with her valued colleagues to continuously provide reliable content and forward-thinking strategies to the estate planning and elder law attorneys who subscribe to InterActive Legal products. Vanessa also serves as the Moderator for the InterActive Legal Roundtable webinar series, fostering collegial discussion among a group of expert panelists on trending topics in estate planning.

Elizabeth Schwartz

Elizabeth F. Schwartzhas been practicing law since 1997 and is a nationally recognized advocate for the legal rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.  She is the author of the book "Before I Do: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise" (The New Press, 2015).  While her Miami-based firm works with all clients in matters of family formation (insemination, adoption, and surrogacy, as well as nuptial agreements) and dissolution, estate planning and probate, she has been on the forefront of providing crucial legal protections for LGBT+ families before and since the arrival of marriage equality, including name and gender marker changes for trans and nonbinary individuals.  She lectures locally, nationally, and internationally about critical topics including the impact of nationwide marriage equality and the continued importance of LGBT couples protecting their loved ones through estate planning, stepparent and second parent adoption.  She focuses her practice in family formation (adoption, insemination, and surrogacy) and dissolution, and handled the first divorce for a same-sex couple in Florida.

Elizabeth is board certified by the Florida Bar in Adoption Law, is a fellow of the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and the Florida Adoption Council, and serves as an adoption intermediary helping make forever families of all kids.  Elizabeth has handled surrogacy for almost 20 years, assisting intended parents, gestational carriers and egg and sperm donors with their legal needs.  She is the author of "LGBT Issues in Surrogacy" in the Handbook of Gestational Surrogacy, ed. E.Scott Sills (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Tim Volk

Tim Volk is a unique professional with an exceptional network, great interpersonal skills and a deep appreciation of the issues surrounding wealth management.  As an integral part of an entrepreneurial family, he gained a strong financial background and expertise in real estate, mortgage banking and insurance.

At Axiom Financial Strategies, Tim leads the Family Advisory Team in the role of Senior Strategic Advisor.  The team's focus is on helping families and their enterprises successfully navigate the challenges in protecting their wealth and legacy, while guiding their heirs into the future.  He is founder and Principal of T. Volk & Company, a boutique advisory firm that specializes in assisting closely held businesses, family offices (single and multi-family) and family-controlled enterprises.  Tim is also the founder and President of Teton Tack & Feed, a privately held, award-winning real estate development company specializing in residential real estate.

While serving as Director of Business Development at BMA Harris myCFO, he was instrumental in strategically expanding the firm and growing assets under advisement.  Tim's innovative approach encompassed everything from product development to client engagement.  His work was honored with the firm's highest achievement awards.  Prior to that, Tim was Sales Vice President at PNC Bank, leading the growth of 10 new mortgage banking offices across the Rocky Mountain Region.

Over the past 25 years, Tim has held key leadership positions with several not-for-profit boards, focused on community service, education, health and well-being.  These include:  Collaboration for Families Flourishing; the Abzyme Research Foundation (NYC); the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center; Children's Hospital at the University of Illinois; Aspen Center for Integral Health; Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association; and the United Way of Laramie County, Wyoming, as Campaign Chairman and a member of the Executive Committee.

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