All adults should have at least a basic estate plan in place given the numerous benefits an estate plan offers. For women, however, estate planning can take on heightened importance. The North Andover estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices discuss what you need to know about estate planning for women.
Why Is Estate Planning More Important for Women?
Statistically, women are more likely to outlive their spouses, ultimately leaving them to be the ones to pass down the marital assets to children and other beneficiaries. Women also tend to be the caretakers of the family, making them more likely to be concerned with issues such as guardians for minor children and even plans for again parents. Finally, more and more women are becoming entrepreneurs, adding in another important estate planning consideration to an already lengthy list of estate planning components.
What Should Be In the Estate Plan of Every Woman?
The components of your estate plan may not be different if you are a woman; however, they may serve a different purpose and/or may have heightened importance in your estate plan. You may wish to consider adding the following to your estate plan:
- Last Will and Testament. Executing a Will ensures that you will not die intestate. If you fail to execute at least a basic Will prior to your death, the state intestate succession laws will decide how your estate assets are distributed. Typically, this means that only a spouse and/or very close relatives will inherit from your estate. Close friends, charities, and more distant relatives will receive nothing from your estate. In addition, executing a Will allows you the only official opportunity you will have to nominate a Guardian for your minor children in the event one is ever needed.
- Incapacity planning. Incapacity is not limited to the elderly. On the contrary, incapacity can strike at any time and anybody. Without an incapacity plan in place, you cannot know who will make health care decisions for you, who will take over control of your assets, or who will make personal decisions if you cannot make them yourself.
- Retirement planning. Statistics tell us that you are likely to outlive your spouse. This makes retirement planning even more important for you as a woman. You need to be certain that you will have sufficient assets and income to live comfortably if your spouse is the first to go. Because retirement planning and estate planning are so closely related, and a change in one plan almost always affects the other plan, it is always best to combine your retirement and estate planning into one cohesive plan.
- Joint ownership. The way in which you title assets can determine whether the asset is required to go through the probate process or is automatically transferred to the surviving spouse upon the death of one spouse. Titling assets as joint owners with rights of survivorship means that the asset will bypass probate upon the death of one owner and that owner’s interest in the asset will transfer directly to the surviving owner (spouse).
- Medicaid planning. Over half of all seniors in long-term care (LTC) rely on Medicaid to cover the high cost of that care. Again, because you are statistically more likely to outlive your spouse, you need to plan for the possibility that you will one day need LTC. Medicaid planning is also important to ensure that your spouse does not deplete your entire retirement nest egg if he ends up needing long-term care.
Contact Our Londonderry Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact our estate planning attorneys in our North Andover, Woburn, and Beverly offices at (978) 969-0331. Our Londonderry and Nashua, New Hampshire office can be reached at (603) 894-4141.
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