Did you know that statistically women are less likely than men to have an estate plan in place despite the fact that women, on average, will outlive men by six to eight years? Life is unpredictable and circumstances, such as the death of their spouse or a loved one, incapacitation of the breadwinner of the family, divorce, or terminal illness usually forces a woman to look into financial matters. We have occasionally been asked to prepare a will for a husband, but not for the wife, with the thought being the husband was the one who earned the family’s wealth. We always explain that planning for both husband and wife is necessary. Managing these affairs proactively can safeguard your assets, wishes and choices.
Money Control’s article entitled “How women can make a solid estate plan” looks at the crucial aspects you should consider when creating your estate plan.
Last Will and Testament. Suppose you choose not to create a will. In that case, intestate succession laws will prevail, where your next of kin will inherit you estate, which may not be aligned with your wishes. Therefore, getting a will or trust in place should be one of the first steps to protect your wishes and those of your intended beneficiaries.
As a mother with minor children ― married, divorced, or widowed ― there is a greater responsibility to make sure that you appoint a guardian who would manage your children’s financial affairs until they’re 18 or even older. As a married woman, it may also be worthwhile to consider coordinating your estate plan with your spouse, so both of you can be on the same page regarding safeguarding each other’s interests and deciding on the subsequent manner of your inheritance. Then, again, by writing your will or trust, you can determine who should inherit from you, whether it’s family, friends, or charitable institutions.
Power of Attorney. A power of attorney is a document that can ensure your financial affairs are taken care of during your lifetime, for instance, in case of incapacitation. If you can’t manage your financial affairs due to medical conditions, you may consider appointing a trustworthy individual to ensure that your finances are safe. A power of attorney must be in place BEFORE you ever become incapacitated.
Trust. There may need to be more than a will for families with complex family issues or just to avoid probate. A trust is a structure that can be created during your lifetime, so beneficiaries are defined, and the trust’s instructions are clearly stated.
Women shouldn’t overlook this critical aspect of their life and wait for a life-changing event to take charge of their financial affairs in which case it might be too late. Work with an estate planning attorney to get important documents in place. We would be glad to be this resource for you. Call our office to schedule your appointment.
Reference: Money Control (March 28, 2023) “How women can make a solid estate plan”