Forbes Magazine has a useful article "Six Estate Planning Questions For Women" by Deborah Jacobs. It is worth a read even if you have an estate plan since it highlights some facts that are easy to overlook. The article addresses that fact that estate planning can be more important for women.
One reason is that of Americans 65 and older, 42% of women are widowed but only 14% of men are widowed. In addition, women typically have a longer life expectancy, a tendency to marry older men, and lower lifetime earnings, meaning that they are more likely than men to see their living standards compromised if proper estate planning isn’t completed. Further, since women typically live longer, they usually have the last word about which assets go to family, charity, or Uncle Sam.
As the article points out, when considering estate planning, here are six basic questions women should think about:
1. Whom can you trust? Medical advancements enable women to live longer which increases the likelihood of suffering from a diminished mental state - and the need for a durable Power of Attorney.2. Who would raise your children? You want to prevent a custody battle and the possibility of nobody wanting to take over. See our prior post entitled "15 Important Tips For Picking A Guardian For Your Child Or Children."
3. Do you need life insurance? Life insurance is a good way to replace lost income or to pay for estate taxes, especially when your estate is made up of illiquid assets.
4. Do you have assets of your own? You may need to transfer property from one spouse to another or out of joint ownership.
5. Is there money in the bank? Make sure there is enough money to cover immediate expenses should one spouse pass away. Funds from the deceased spouse’s separate account won’t be available for use right away.
6. Should you shed assets to save taxes? Make sure you leave yourself enough before you start giving things away.
This article is just a beginning on the issues women need to address in estate planning but it is a good starting point. This is an important time to have your estate plan created or updated due to the uncertainty in estate planning law. See my prior post entitled "Planning For Dormant Estate Tax in 2010. What Happens in 2011. Why You Need To Seek Advice And Have Estate Plan Updated."
Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney will help you answer these questions and address other questions that are important to you and your family.
Posted by Henry (Hank) J. Moravec, III, a partner at Moravec, Varga & Mooney. For a complimentary 30 minute consultation (telephonic or in person), you can e-mail Hank Moravec at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (626) 793-3210 or (818) 769-4221.
He focuses his practice on Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Administration, Beneficiary and Trustee Representation, Probate Litigation, Tax Law, and Nonprofit Law. He represents clients throughout Southern California and his offices are conveniently located for clients in the Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
The San Fernando Valley office is located at 4605 Lankershim Boulevard, Suite 718, North Hollywood, California 91602-1878. Telephone: (818) 769-4221.