Gender equality has come a long way in the past few decades and years, but still, when most people think of estate planning they think of wealthy older men along the lines of Joe Kennedy or John Rockefeller. The truth is, however, that estate planning is a subject which has a significant impact on women. Why? Here are just a few reasons:

* Older women (65+) outnumber older men by 22.4 million to 16.5 million.

* Poverty rates tend to be higher among older women than older men.

* On average, it is the woman of the family who will end up putting her career on hold for caregiving duties at various times in her life (either to care for young children or aging parents.)

* Not to mention that women’s longer life expectancy, combined with their tendency to marry older mates and their lower lifetime earnings means they are far more likely to see their living standards compromised in retirement if proper estate planning isn’t done.

How can women ensure that this doesn’t happen to them? The best answer is for every woman to take an active part in planning her estate—not just the typical “women’s issue” of guardianship of the children, but the financial issues as well. If you are married, talk to your partner about what will happen to your assets if your spouse passes away first, leaving you a widow.

Most modern women have some assets in their name only (and if you don’t have assets in your own name you will if your spouse is the first to pass away) and it’s important not only to create a will for these assets, but also to talk to your family about how these assets should be distributed upon your death. Because estate planning is all about the details, be sure to bring your estate planner into the conversation so you can discuss the issue in specifics, not just generalities.

There are many reasons for being reluctant to start planning your estate: You don’t have time, your partner or spouse generally takes care of the finances, you’re just not “a numbers person.” But there’s one overwhelming reason to take the plunge: to protect your assets and your future. This isn’t a job any woman should leave to someone else. Taking charge of your estate means taking charge of your life. If you can get the ball rolling, our firm can help with everything else.

Ilene L. McCauley and Frederick H. Goldinov are licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona. The law firm of Goldinov & McCauley, PLC provides legal services for clients in the State of Arizona. The information provided on this website and our blog is general and educational in nature and should not be construed as legal or tax advice, nor does the use of the website create an attorney/client relationship. Laws of specific states or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy or completeness of this information which cannot take the place of one-on-one personal legal consultation and advice. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. No legal representation is created, and we make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use. Neither the authors nor anyone forwarding or reproducing this work shall have any liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained in this website or blog.