Estate Planning for Women

WEstate Planning for Womenhy is estate planning for women different than estate planning for men?  On average, women live about 6 years longer than men, a fact that has implications for their estate planning.

Women likely to entrust finances to spouse. Women who turn over financial matters to their husbands may assume that the husband will take care of any estate planning needed.  This is a dangerous assumption to make.  If your husband dies without a Will and you survive him, you may be unpleasantly surprised at how state law dictates the estate will be distributed. In Tennessee, if a person dies and is survived by a spouse and children, the spouse receives only one-third to one-half of the estate.   

Women are more likely to need a durable power of attorney and healthcare directive. Women are likely to outlive their husbands. Our lives can change dramatically in an instant. Who will handle your financial affairs and make health care decisions for you if a car accident or a stroke leaves you  unable to make financial and/or healthcare decisions for yourself?  While you are healthy, you should appoint someone you trust to handle those responsibilities when you cannot.

Trust Agreement. Trusts are not just for the wealthy  A Trust is a useful instrument that can benefit just about anyone.  If you are in a second marriage with children from a previous relationship, a Trust can provide for your children and your surviving spouse.  With a trust you can make sure that your children will inherit from you even if your spouse survives you..  It can provide for non-profits, beloved pets, friends or causes that you support.

Will. Each individual must have a Will.  A Will directs how you want your belongings, real property and financial assets distributed after your death.  Death of a family member puts great stress on the surviving family.  Some families have been known to waste estate assets arguing in court over who gets what. Having a Will or a trust that clearly expresses your wishes can help prevent the type of family conflict that can erupt after a parent’s death.

Reevaluate your estate plan.  Everyone should reevaluate their estate plan every few years, especially if you go through a divorce oimage-manager the death of a spouse.  If you have divorced or lost your spouse, you should work with an estate planner.  In many states, a divorce entitles you to a share of the retirement and/or investment accounts your spouse accumulated during the  marriage.  Protecting your interest in these accounts is important.  Should you find yourself widowed, you want to be sure you have enough in savings and retirement accounts to cover you through a long retirement.

Estate planning is important for anyone, especially for women.  Don’t make the mistake of putting this on the back burner or assuming that a spouse has covered this for you.  Taking control of your financial well-being through estate planning gives you confidence about the future.  Know what your options are.  Know what you want and leave clear directives that will be followed.  A knowledgeable estate planner will help you plan your future and protect yourself and your estate.

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