Nearly half of all substantial investors, i.e., those with more than $100K of investable assets), are women, and women in the US control 75% of the total wealth. Yet most women have not made an estate plan that will protect themselves, their families, and their assets.
As women, we focus on those we care about more than we focus on ourselves. We're caring for our children, our husbands, our parents, our husband’s parents and children… but while we're caring for loved ones in the present, many women have not looked toward the future. Statistics show that women outlive men, so having a well-planned estate that minimizes tax liability and creates more wealth is important for your future as well as your legacy. What if you don't have children? ALL women need an estate plan.
Wealthy women need to understand the gift and estate tax consequences of disposing the assets, who is in control of your husband’s wealth if he dies first, and who is in charge of your combined wealth when you both pass.
Single women need to decide who they want in charge of their medical and financial affairs if they can no longer make those decisions themselves.
Married women need to educate themselves about estate planning techniques and participate in the family planning to ensure there’s enough to live on in the event of their death or their husband’s death. They should also be comfortable with the fiduciaries selected.
Divorced women need to plan how their own money will be handled in the most beneficial way for their children, or to ensure that their ex-partner’s plan adequately provides for young children in terms of establishing guardianship or confirming their former spouse’s support obligations.
Women in second marriages need to know how pre-nuptial agreements impact their estate plan, make sure their ability to live in a second spouse’s home after his death is provided for, and clarify which assets pass to the surviving spouse and which go to the children of the deceased spouse.
Other considerations include providing for children with special needs and providing for elderly parents.
At the very least, every woman (and adult for that matter) needs a will, a durable power of attorney, and a health care proxy. Beyond that, there are considerations of trusts, life insurance, beneficiaries, fiduciaries, and countless opportunities to avoid taxes. Seeing an estate planner now will more than pay for itself down the road, and will help you rest easier knowing that, if hard times hit, you've taken care of yourself and your family.