We’re all about equality, but the fact is that women have different estate planning needs than men. Whether they’re single or married, have children or no children, women have different things to think about when it comes to estate planning. This means that women need to be involved in the planning process: Express their own wishes, voice their own concerns, and ask their own questions. Here are three of the ways that women are different from men—and how it affects their estate planning.
- Women live longer than men. Among the senior citizen population (65 and older) more than three times as many women as men are widowed. This longer life expectancy means two things; first of all it means that women are the ones who will likely have to deal with taxes. When a married person dies their assets can transfer to their spouse tax free. This doesn’t avoid taxes it merely delays them, and the surviving spouse (the woman) will have to be the one to minimize the tax burden on the children. Second of all, women have to worry more about their retirement savings lasting them to the end. Estate planning is partially about distribution of your remaining assets when you die—it takes careful planning to ensure that you’ll have remaining assets after a long and active life.
- Women are the caregivers. This includes taking care of young children and elderly parents. Statistically, women are the ones who will initiate the estate planning process—mainly because they are concerned about the guardianship of young children. Women are also the ones who will eventually have most need of a caregiver agreement or help navigating the Medicaid application process when they’re caring for their older relatives.
- Women need to be most concerned about loss of primary income. Because men are still generally the primary breadwinners in a family, women are the ones most often left out in the cold when their spouse passes away and they lose that income stream. Women need not only to make sure they and their partner both have adequate insurance policies, they need to plan to keep those insurance proceeds and to avoid heavy taxes upon death.
All of these things can be discussed and planned for with your estate planning attorney—and it doesn’t take away from your spouse or children. In fact, having your own plan in order actually helps the important people in your life. So don’t wait any longer, plan to protect yourself today and in the future.
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