Estate Planning is a Woman’s Issue, Part One: Incapacity and the Caregiver
All women—regardless of marital status and career choices—need to understand estate planning and need to have a plan of their own in place. Here are some issues that are of special interest to women.
Incapacity: Generally speaking, women live longer than men. As a result, there is an increased need to plan for physical and/or mental incapacity that can occur in later years.
Consider long-term care insurance. When purchased in advance, it can help cover the costs of incapacity and help you remain in your home for as long as possible.
Plan now to prevent the court from taking control of your finances and your personal care. At a minimum, you need a durable power of attorney for assets (so someone you trust will have the authority to manage and use your assets to provide for you) and a durable power of attorney for health care (so someone you trust will have the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf).
Consider a revocable living trust. It provides better protection than a durable power of attorney alone in case of incapacity. It allows you to name someone to step in and manage your financial affairs when you can’t without court interference. A living trust also contains your instructions for distributing your assets when you die, so this one document will control your assets at incapacity and death—something a will cannot do.
Work with a financial advisor. A longer life expectancy and rising health care costs mean that a woman’s retirement savings need to last longer and go farther. A trusted financial advisor can help you project expenses and create a sound investment plan so you won’t worry about running out of money.
Medicaid planning. If you have limited assets you may qualify for Medicaid, which pays for long-term care expenses. Consult an attorney who is experienced in elder law before you do anything on your own. The laws are complicated and an innocent error could cause you to be ineligible for benefits for some time.
Caregivers: Women are typically the caregivers and, as such, are naturally concerned about the care and education of their children and grandchildren. Often, there are others who also depend on you, including aging parents and even pets.
Minor children: If you have minor children, or are raising your grandchildren, you need to name a guardian in your will; otherwise, if something happens to you, a judge will decide who will raise them without knowing your preference. You may also want to consider a document naming guardians for minors in case of incapacity. A trust established for their inheritance will prevent court interference and let you decide when the children will inherit.
Others who depend on you: Aging parents, a child or relative with special needs, pets and others who depend on you need to be included in your estate planning. Special needs planning can provide care without jeopardizing valuable government benefits.
Providing for their care: Additional life insurance may be needed to provide for your loved ones the way you want. If you have sufficient assets, you can set up a gifting program or establish a trust for the education of grandchildren and future generations.
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.