Estate Planning is an important, and often essential, process for many (if not all) individuals.  Women, in particular, should pay attention to this crucial planning step in life.  Regardless of marital status or net worth, women have unique concerns and considerations that may impact their estate planning process.

Women tend to live longer than men.

On average, women live longer than men.  For women in relationships or partnerships with men, there is an increased need to plan for possible incapacity that may occur later in life.  The idea of facing physical or mental incapacity in your own is an extremely intimidating and challenging concept – but there are steps that can be taken to provide protection, should that situation occur.  Regardless of relationship status, with older age often comes an increased need to anticipate health concerns or challenges.

Long-term care insurance, when purchased well enough in advance, can help to cover costs of incapacity and can even assist you in remaining in your home as long as possible.  A health care directive designates someone you trust to make medical decisions for you, and allows you to communicate your health care wishes.  Having a power of attorney in place allows you to designate someone you trust to manage your finances, if you are unable to do so yourself, to provide for you care.  A revocable living trust can also be a powerful tool to provide protection in case of incapacity as it allows you to designate someone to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to.  These measures allow you to plan for the worst case scenario, and name individuals that you trust to assist with your care in the event it is needed.  Without planning in place, there is likely to be court intervention and these important decisions are left up to a judge.

Women tend to earn less money in the lifetime than men.

Men tend to earn more money than women on average.  Whether this is due to wage differences, or the fact women are more likely to leave the workforce to care for the home and family, it is still a factor that affects many women’s lives.  Because women make less money in their lifetimes, they must plan to make fewer dollars last longer.

It is important for women to seek sound retirement planning advice – which includes, but is not limited to, estate planning and advanced care planning.  Planning for retirement should include advanced care and estate planning.  Working with an elder law attorney can help to identify which legal remedies may exist to meet your specific needs and goals.

Women tend to be the caregivers.

Women are commonly the caregivers in their families.  They care for children, elder family members, grandchildren and pets.  In this role, women are concerned with the care, education and health of the individuals that rely on them.

If you have minor children, or are raising grandchildren, a guardian needs to be named in a legally recognized document (often this is a will or trust).  Without a guardian named in a legally recognized document, a judge will decide who will raise minor children without knowing your preference.  It is also important to decide who will control any assets or money received by minor beneficiaries.

If an individual who depends on you receives government benefits, it may be necessary to work with an attorney to ensure that any financial support you want to provide does not interfere with the government benefits they are receiving.  For example, a Supplemental Needs Trust or Special Needs Trust may provide additional financial support to such individuals without impacting the benefits they receive.

Aging parents, children, relatives, pets, and others who depend on you can be included in your estate planning.  You can set up a gifting program for individuals, or establish a trust for your children, grandchildren, and future generations.  Trusts can also provide guidance as to how the money is to be spent – you can decide if it will be for health, maintenance and support of the beneficiaries, or even set forth that the funds only be used for education.  In addition, any money left to younger beneficiaries can be held in trust until the beneficiaries reach a certain, perhaps more mature and responsible, age before it is distributed.

Women are wealthy.

Women control $14 trillion in assets, and three-fourths of the financial wealth in the United States.  Women own more than 8.6 million businesses in the US, and generate revenue of $1.3 trillion each year.  In short, women are movers and shakers.  Despite earning less on average, women are accomplishing tremendous amounts in their careers and earning considerable assets and wealth.

Accordingly, it is important for women to plan for the future.  Women should seek out sound investment, charitable giving, and tax planning advice when it comes to their wealth.  Women need to think about protecting their assets, and plan for the succession of their businesses with an estate planning attorney.

Women today face unique circumstances that make it crucial for them to educate themselves about estate planning, and consult with an estate planning and elder law attorney to plan for both their estate and advanced care in older age.  Schromen Law, LLC provides thoughtful estate planning, unique to individual clients’ needs, goals and circumstances.

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.

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