With Mother’s Day coming, I thought I’d write about how estate planning is just so important for mothers and women generally! While everyone needs an estate plan, as well as a financial plan, women in particular face unique concerns in their estate planning. This is primarily because women have a longer life expectancy and thus are likely to outlive their husbands at which point they have an even greater responsibility to manage her own financial affairs. But regardless of a woman’s marital status or net worth, they need to make more decisions and prepare NOW to better protect themselves and their loved in ones in the case of incapacity or death.
Here are a few considerations that are unique to women in planning their estates and managing their assets during their lifetime:
- Longer Life Expectancy. As I mentioned above, women generally live longer than men. This really means that married women need their assets to last longer than men do, which in turn means that wives who will inherit their husbands’ estates, need to have a good handle on their joint finances and estate plan now. A longer life expectancy also usually means the wife might have the final word about the final disposition about her assets, including the assets she inherits from her husband. And a side note: because of her likelihood to survive, she would be the one who would potentially face pressure or influence from family members and friends after her husband’s death
- Unequal Income Streams. While we shouldn’t assume that men are always the breadwinners, it’s still the case for many families. For that reason it is so important to plan for when the husband dies or becomes incapacitated – couples need to ensure that both spouses have adequate life insurance policies. Even if a woman is a stay-at-home mom and not bringing in income or employed, there should be adequate life insurance on her life to help the surviving husband with childcare and other expenses that arise because of the loss of his wife. Remember, creating an estate plan is not about the distribution of your assets after death, but it is also about reviewing and ensuring there is enough assets to support both spouses throughout life.
- Women are usually the custodial parent. Women who are parents of young children especially need to plan for the continued care of those children in the event something happens to them. This is important if the woman is divorced or the sole custodial parent.
- Business Ownership. More and more woman are becoming business owners these days. They need to plan to protect their business assets and for the succession of their business.
- Women in high-risk professions. More and more women are in higher risk professions these days such as medicine and law – they can really benefit from proper asset protection planning as part of their estate plan.
Ultimately, while many women enter a marriage with their own wealth, many others are handling their finances for the very first time due to death or divorce. Either way, women in particular are sensitive to change in the circumstances of a marriage, whether due to death, divorce, or remarriage. It’s not recommended to wait until a life-changing event occurs to start the estate planning process. Estate planning is a life-long process that requires a periodic review of assets and your objectives.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful moms out there!
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