Estate Planning 101 For Women

Ladies, did you know that 36% of women 65 and older are widowed, compared with 12% of men 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That is just one statistic that places us as women into a special bracket of folks who need to think about their plan.

What kind of plan you ask? We as women tend to plan nearly everything from our life goals to dinner but we fall short when it comes to estate planning. This is unfortunate as women tend to live longer than men, women are more likely to be the custodial parent, and women also are the ones who are often times busy taking care of everyone else.

Married women, for example, need to have a proper estate plan drawn up because although most married women rely on their husbands to “deal with that stuff,” we as women need to know what will happen in the event of _____________________. I am not accusing any husbands of being dishonest, but do you really know what will happen to his pension? Has he opted to get the maximum benefits in his lifetime? If so, then any and all benefits end when he passes. Where will that leave you? You should be planning for income replacement through life insurance. In addition, if you are married with minor children, a will is the only document where you can name a guardian for your children. Don’t you want to have a say in who will care for them? Wouldn’t you want to be able to prepare them just in case?

Another notable group of women are single women without children. The most daunting question becomes “who will take care of me if I become disabled, or in my old age?” In essence, you need to decide who will be making your financial and medical decisions for you? You know best when you have your faculties and can make that kind of decision for your future.

Widowed women need to make sure their estate plans show that their husbands have in fact passed, and consider making any changes to your financial plan that may assist you as a single woman going forward.

Divorced women should be checking the beneficiary designations on retirement and other accounts. Most folks upon a divorce forget to clean house and their ex will still be listed as a beneficiary.

If you are entering a marriage, particularly if you have significant assets or if this is your second marriage, a Trust should be written up to ensure your heirs are protected. Those family lines get blurry when families are blended so it is well worth the time and effort to have those documents prepared.

No, there is no sex-specific estate plan but it is important to recognize one’s situation and plan accordingly. Just because you create a plan preparing for an unfortunate circumstance to arise in your lifetime, does not mean it will. But it is better to know and be prepared. Contact me to discuss your estate plan needs today!

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