Orange County Business Journal

The Gender Gap in Retirement Planning

Despite all of the advances women have made in recent years when it comes to saving for retirement, women still lag behind men. Financial planners report that women often have a lower risk tolerance than men so they earn less on their investments. Women have a longer life expectancy and need more income to last through retirement. And generally speaking, women shoulder a disproportionate amount of responsibility caring for significant others, care-taking of children and aging parents, working and volunteering. This increased burden means it is extremely important for a women to take ahold of her retirement planning.

We know that only 72% of women are saving for retirement while 80% of men are doing so. On average, men’s retirement accounts are 50% higher than women’s accounts. This leads us to the fact that fewer women have comprehensive estate plans and even fewer incorporate structures to protect their assets from lawsuits into their estate planning. Living in an overly litigious society, in the U.S., 15 million lawsuits are filed annually. Women need to consider how to protect their assets, retirement and their legacies should a bad actor sue.

Fly first class or your kids will. Estate planning is not about sacrificing your lifestyle so your kids will have a more comfortable life. Enjoy your life and if you have more wealth than you can spend plan to maximize what you pass on free of administrative costs, death taxes and risk of loss due to lawsuits.   Estate planning should never be about making your children and grandchildren richer. Working strictly within the Tax Code, a comprehensive estate plan can optimize income and estate tax deferral opportunities – all approved by the IRS.

Perhaps you remember George Carlin’s hilarious routine about our “stuff.” We all have stuff and we are pretty particular about it. During our lifetime we collect a lot of assets, some of it valuable, some of it not. But because it’s your stuff it means something to you. Asset protection should be incorporated into a well-designed estate plan which can place your assets into a living trust, which will not have to go through the long and expensive probate process that would be required if you only had a will.

And once your estate plan is in force, place effective “firewall” protection around your assets to promote the early and cost efficient settlement of potential lawsuits by eliminating the economic incentive of a “payday” from an unexpected and irresponsible lawsuit. Asset protection attorneys can offer you a variety of tax free or tax deferred trust options which protect your assets and can minimize your taxes.

Finally, don’t ignore life insurance.  Today, millions of successful Americans are putting significant sums into tax efficient life insurance products.  These products are the most tax efficient asset classes in the tax code: cash values grow income tax free, the owner may withdraw savings from policies income tax free, and death benefits are income tax free. When you couple this with premium financing, life insurance may be the singular more important planning strategy for women.

Posted in Client Alert, Orange County Business Journal.