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Elder Law and Estate Planning Blog - Lancaster, PA

Monday, January 7, 2013

What Women Need to Know About Estate Planning

I recently came upon an old Forbes article about what women need to know about estate planning (read it here).  With women living longer than men, now more than ever do they need to take charge of the estate planning process, or at least they need to be an equal participant in it.  Estate planning affects women more profoundly because they generally outlive their spouses, giving them the last word about where the family's weath goes.  As a result, they need to be up to date with their estate planning and it intricacies.  Although the field is still dominated by men, widows are now able to balance a checkbook and handle the family assets.  If they do not participate in estate planning, women are far more likely to see their living standards compromised in retirement.  And since 42% of women are widowed (compared to 14% of men), they have the last word about which family members and charities the couples assets go to.

Before it is too late, women should talk to their spouses, children and even parents to avoid fights, hostility and hurt feelings.  To get the conversation started, here are some tips, but know that there are many other things you should consider.  Consult an estate planning attorney should you have more questions or want more information.

  • Talk to your husband about the conversation.  Know what he wants in case he passes first, but make sure to find a gentle way to bring up the conversation.
  • Talk to your children, too.  You may be surprised to hear their views on the subject.  You don't have to agree to their wishes, but it is important to know what they think.
  • Learn the key deadlines and how they apply when a spouse dies.  The Forbes article lists the time frames for 2011, but it is possible that they have changed already and might be changing again in the future.  Consult an estate planning attorney to answer this and any other questions you may have.
  • Find someone you can trust.  Our lives may be longer, but it also means a greater chance of suffering from a diminished mental state.  Make sure you have a friend or family member on hand to act on your behalf.

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