The Impact On Women Of Not Having An Estate Plan


Regardless of generally held beliefs about it being nothing more than a “good idea,” estate planning is essential.  In particular, estate planning has a profound impact on women.  This article explains why.

Typical, old-fashioned gender-based roles are in many ways a thing of the past, yet, in some ways, gender is still an important factor.  Take in the area of estate planning for instance.  What is one reason in particular that gender is important? Women have a longer life expectancy than do men.  As disconcerting a statistic as it may be, MsMoney.com estimated that at least 75% of women will eventually be widowed.  Add to that an even more disconcerting statistic: the fact that Ms.Money.com states the average age at which a woman is widowed is 56 and one can quickly see why estate planning is an issue that very much affects women today.

If you think those numbers are concerning, consider this: experts estimate that three out of four Americans – that’s over 230 million people – have no estate plan in place. If what MsMoney.com says is true, then that ends up being a lot of women faced with making tough decisions on their own at an even tougher time.

And yet people are still not securing estate plans for themselves.  Why?  Well, here are several misconceptions people believe about estate planning:

Misconception #1: I’m not old enough to worry about it.

Remember, if on average, women are only 56 years old when they become widows, “not old enough to worry about it,” is a relative term.  Keep in mind, you are not just planning for what happens to your assets at your death, or who will take care of things if you become incapacitated, but as previously stated in this article, you’re making plans for what will happen should you be married and become widowed.  If you are a parent, the need for planning is even more important; in the case that your children are minors, it is imperative that you select guardians to raise them if something happens to you and your partner or spouse.

Misconception #2: My estate isn’t big enough to worry about estate taxes.

Maybe it isn’t today, but it may be by the year you die. Next year we’re in for a whopper of a tax change: the amount you can pass free from estate taxation under current law goes down in 2011 to $1 million. That’s going to be a heck of a financial penalty on people who weren’t expecting to pay out such large sums and have been expecting to live out their lives on the money they’ll now be forking over to Uncle Sam. Proper planning can help you save that money and spend it the way you choose to.

Misconception #3: My property is in joint tenancy; I don’t have to worry.

While joint tenancy can help you avoid probate and having to re-title assets upon the death of one spouse, that’s not the end of the story.  Joint tenancy passes all the dead spouse’s assets to the surviving spouse, increasing their estate even more and compounding their estate tax problems. Further, joint tenancy is not a solution to the problems of incapacity.

As previously stated, women live longer than men-nearly 7 years longer than men, on average-and are statistically likely to survive their husbands.  In that potentially difficult time of having to pick up the pieces after their spouse’s or partner’s death, the last thing anyone would want to be saddled with is the fear of how to financially get by. This is why, despite the popularly-held misconceptions out there, estate planning is critical for women.

Estate and retirement planning can be a complex puzzle. A qualified estate and retirement planning attorney can help you put all the pieces together. With a well-planned estate and retirement, you can rest easier. Your future will be secure. You will have laid the foundation for a great life. You will have guarded against incapacity and the death of your spouse or partner. And, finally, you will have gotten your children off on the right path. It’s amazing what a little bit of planning can do!