Depending on the size and value of your estate, the estate planning process can be quite complex. However, it is not only the value of your estate that affects how you should design your estate plans. If you are a woman, you need to approach the estate planning process a little differently.
There are a few reasons for this. On average, women live 4.9 years longer than men. A longer life span is great, but you are also going to need your funds to last a little longer, particularly if your husband has passed on. Women still typically earn less than men, and many stop working while they raise their children. Both of those factors can lead to you to have less money saved away for your golden years.
The good news is you can plan for these eventualities. Here is what you need to know about estate planning as a woman.
Just because you are married does not mean you should know nothing about your finances. Letting your spouse pay the bills is one thing, but not understanding your financial assets is something else. You need to know about all your shared assets including retirement accounts, investment accounts, stocks, property and savings and checking accounts. You will also want to know how to access all these accounts and the names of any financial advisors that handle these assets.
Protect these assets
Once you understand all your shared assets, ensure these are protected when you pass on. Work with your spouse to create an estate plan, which may include a will, trust, health care directives and other investment planning strategies. Or if your spouse has already created an estate plan, go over that plan with him. Ensure you will be well provided for if your spouse passes on before you. Maybe that means purchasing additional insurance or talking with an experienced estate planning attorney about how best to avoid estate taxes when passing assets to you.
Include any businesses in your plans
If you or your husband own a business, you need to create a succession plan for the company. Maybe that means training one of your children how to run the business or finding a candidate within the company to take over eventually. Or maybe you want to sell it, if you or your husband passes on. Discuss these concerns with your spouse, and then create a written plan outlining the steps needed to take.
Keep documents updated
Perhaps you or your husband were married before. Check that you or your spouse’s ex is not named on any property deeds or accounts. If an ex is still listed as a beneficiary, he or she could still inherit a share of the assets.
Plan to regularly review any named beneficiaries in your estate plans. Many life changes could precipitate a need to make changes, and you want to make sure these changes are reflected in the documents.
Though no one wants to think about significant other passing on, women must prepare for this possibility by creating and reviewing estate plans to ensure their futures are protected.