Women And Estate Planning: 4 Things To Know

estate planning for women

Estate planning is important for everyone – but especially for women, whether single, married, or cohabiting. With more women becoming breadwinners, divorced, or living with a long-term partner than ever before, it’s crucial to equip yourself with knowledge about estate planning.

#1 – Understanding Estate Planning

Estate planning is a map of how you want your personal and financial matters handled in the event of your disability or death. The arrangement ensures your property will be protected if you can’t do it personally. Assets which can be covered include life insurance, superannuation, real estate, cars, personal possessions, and debts.

Every estate plan begins with a will, and the estate’s owner must write, sign, and notarise estate plans. A will is needed to determine how property is to be divided, and who will be the guardians for children – among many other things, in the event of your death. Without a will, your property will be distributed according to law, so it’s therefore a very necessary component of every estate plan.

When it comes to drawing up a will, you can either get a lawyer or write your own will online. Willed, for example, provides legal services for this purpose on its website. However, if your financial situation is more complex, you may prefer to hire a lawyer to draft your will instead.

Women outlive men by 4.9 years on average, so your assets must last longer and cover more complex medical or long-term care. This means you’ll likely get the last say about the disposition of all assets collected throughout your marriage, too.

Estate planning is more necessary if you have young children, own property in many states, value financial privacy, or operate a business. If you don’t plan, your assets will pass under intestacy laws. This may cause your assets to be transferred to an unintended beneficiary. Without proper estate planning, you may not like where or to whom your assets will go – hence, you can’t afford to remain in the dark about it.

estate planning for women

#2 – Getting Expert Help

Estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all process. Each plan must be tailor-fitted to the individual’s goals, asset structure, and beneficiary needs. If any of these things change significantly, you need to update the estate plan accordingly.

As mentioned earlier, a team of experts can help you make or assess an estate plan so you can be assured that your assets will go to your intended beneficiaries (or recipients). A proper estate plan will also ensure that your assets are transferred in a way that minimises taxes while still protecting them.

When it comes to legal matters, experience counts a lot. So, when looking for a lawyer, ask about their experience in trusts and estates specifically. If you have an elderly parent, you should consider contacting an elder law estate planner.

Knowledge and specific experience come from knowing and understanding your local laws and regulations. Otherwise, the court may invalidate your estate plan.

#3 – Making Sure The Estate Plan Is Valid

Ensure that your prepared estate plan paperwork is legally valid. Incorrectly prepared or mismanaged documents may not be considered legal. Should you pass away after submitting such a document, your estate will need to undergo the probate process. In probate, the estate of a person who passed away is distributed by a court.

If you have a simple estate with only a bank account as your only asset, adding a payable-on-death beneficiary to your account(s) is the best approach to avoid probate. Trust may be the ideal solution if you have a complicated inheritance or several heirs to consider.

#4 – Other Important Factors

As uncomfortable as the thought may be, you should also consider what to do if you survive an accident or medical crisis but become comatose or are in a state incapable of handling your affairs.

Keep in mind that a will does not take effect until you die. Thus, for this circumstance, you’ll need additional documentation that includes the following:

Enduring Power of Attorney – This authority extends to personal, commercial, and legal problems. An enduring power of attorney allows someone to make choices for you if you can no longer do so.

Guardianship Instructions – You have the power to choose the legal guardian for your kids, and it need not be a relative. A guardian ensures that your children have a safe home and are provided with food, clothing, and education.

Until they reach legal age, a guardian of the estate handles your kids’ inheritance and pays their bills. If you don’t name a guardian in your prepared Will, the Court will do it for you. Furthermore, depending on the age of the children involved, the court may consider their wishes.

Medical Enduring Power of Attorney. A medical enduring power of attorney allows another person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. If and when you become incompetent, the medical enduring power of attorney takes effect. The disability may be momentary, like loss of consciousness or minor accidents. Meanwhile, it does not take action if your decision-making capacity has only been temporarily or mildly impaired.

The documentation you choose will depend on your circumstances and the level of trust in others. You can always consult a solicitor if you’re not sure what you should do.

Final Thoughts

An estate plan protects your assets and loved ones when you can’t. If you don’t have one, the courts may decide the distribution of your assets, and even who raises your children if you haven’t specified who to take care of them. Therefore, it’s super important to prepare a Will for you and your loved ones’ peace of mind.

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1 Comment

  • comebacks
    Reply comebacks Wednesday 21st December, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Not a fan of the cutout sides!

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