Estate Planning for Women – Why is it so Important?

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By Bobby Kouretchian

Why is estate planning more important for women?

Although estate planning should be commonplace for almost everyone, with each passing year it becomes even more important for women.  Simply put—women tend to outlive men, and thus will most likely carry the responsibility of managing their estate and assets.

Recent life expectancy rates show that, on average, a woman will live about seven (7) years longer than a man.  Taking into account the fact that in the United States, grooms are on average 2.3 years older than their brides, and you can see that an average American bride is likely to live about 9.3 years longer than her husband.  And in some parts of the country, that number can actually be as high as 15 years longer.

This “post-husband era” can potentially spiral into an economic and legal challenge, possibly subjecting your family to costly probate court proceedings, wasteful attorney fees and in some cases avoidable estate taxes.

Perhaps most importantly, when people proactively manage their estate, their loved ones won’t be compelled to address a slew of untimely legal matters during a difficult period.

 

 

Do I need Estate Planning?

A common misconception is that estate planning is just for wealthy people.  Although the term “estate planning” gives the illusion of wealth and nobility, practically anyone with heirs or even just a modicum of assets can benefit from some form of estate planning.

 

Is life insurance enough?

Life insurance can definitely make a difference. However, life insurance will not do anything for health care choices, childcare powers, nor your wishes for passing along your property to your chosen heirs.  Life insurance is simply a part of an estate plan and should not simply be relied upon as a comprehensive solution.

 

Will joint tenancy be enough?

No, that’s not enough.  Sometimes both spouses unexpectedly pass away.  But more often than not, one parent dies leaving the remaining parent to prepare for succession of property to the children and other legal matters.

Joint tenancy will only delay the eventuality of probate, not avoid it.   And, if the children are minors the court will likely be involved in the guardianship process of the surviving children.  Taking the right action now can give you the power to determine who will take care of your children after you are gone.

 

What are the estate planning basics?

Many factors go into an estate plan.  In some cases a simple Will, along with an assortment of other documents pertaining to healthcare, financial management and/or childcare will be all that is needed.  In some cases, a revocable living trust, along with a pour-over will and an assortment of other documents is good enough.  And in some cases, it can be quite a bit more complicated with sub-trusts, irrevocable living trusts, dynasty trusts, special needs trusts.  One size does not fit all.

Having a professional accustomed to navigating  estate planning  will save you time, money and undue grief.  Most estate planning attorneys offer a free initial consultation. You don’t risk anything by seeking one out.

To get the most out of estate planning, give your estate planning attorney as much information as possible.

 

What’s next?

Seize the day.  There will never be a perfect day to get started.  The sooner you take action, the better prepared you and your family will be for years to come.

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