Estate Planning is a Woman’s Issue, Part Two: Married, Single and Charitably Inclined

Estate Planning is a Woman’s Issue, Part Two: Married, Single and Charitably Inclined

Women have special estate-planning needs. In Part One we explained that, because women typically live longer than men, they need to plan for the possibility of incapacity in their later years. We also discussed that women as caregivers need to plan for the continued care of those who may be dependent upon them.

In Part Two, we will look at estate planning through the eyes of married and single women. We will also look at why estate planning is essential for women who are charitably inclined.

Married Women. Not only do women live longer, but they also tend to choose husbands who are older. This means they are likely to become widowed and live on their own for a number of years. Without proper estate planning many married women will see their standard of living reduced during their retirement years.

Take an active role in your estate planning as a couple. Married women often leave estate planning up to their husbands, which means they usually have to deal with the consequences of the planning (or lack thereof). An unknowledgeable widow will likely be confused and uncertain, while one who has participated in the planning process will more easily understand it and even feel empowered.

Second marriages: Estate planning for individuals in a second marriage create a number of unique issues. Women in second marriages need estate planning that provides for them without disinheriting children from the previous marriage. Because most married women survive their husbands, they often have final say over who will ultimately receive the couple’s assets. While not usually a problem for a long-time marriage that produced all of the couple’s children, this can definitely be an issue in a second marriage.
Unmarried Women (Never Married, Divorced and Widowed). If you have no children, you may want certain friends or charitable organizations to receive your possessions, but without a valid estate plan, the laws of your state will dictate who will receive them. If you are in a relationship but not legally married, your partner will not receive anything unless your estate plan so states. (The opposite is true, too—if your partner should die before you, you will not receive anything unless your partner’s plan provides for you.)

Basic estate planning documents. All women need a durable power of attorney for assets, durable power of attorney for health care, and a will or living trust.

Keep documents updated. If you are divorced or separated from your partner, you probably do not want this person inheriting from you or making life and death decisions for you, so be sure to update your documents (including beneficiary designations) as soon as possible after a separation.
Charitable Causes. For women who are charitably inclined, philanthropy becomes part of their estate planning. If you want some or all of your assets to go to a favorite charitable, religious or educational organization, you must include this in your estate planning. Without a valid plan in place, your assets will be distributed according to state law, and a charity will not be among your heirs.

Life insurance. Some women purchase additional life insurance and use the proceeds to establish a charitable foundation.
Disclaimer Notice: It is my intention that the comments, articles, and other information provided on this website are intended to provide you with general information which may be interesting and of value to you. You should not construe any of this information as legal advice or my opinion as it may relate to your specific circumstances. Please feel free to contact me directly if you would like to discuss your own situation and your estate or business planning needs.

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