Women involved in estate planning with their husbands and extended family members may find themselves with a unique view in the process. While a man might make more money in his lifetime than his wife, she will likely outlive him. And, while the husband might earn the larger portion of household income, his wife is more likely to decide how to spend it on a day-to-day basis. How does it all turn out when it is time to pass on assets?
As husbands and wives age, they should look out for each other in estate planning. Indeed, because women tend to outlive their spouses, they sometimes have the final say in estate planning. The law incorporates married couples in this process automatically. For example, if the husband dies without writing a will, assets the couple acquires during marriage then become the property of his widow. However, the best way to anticipate specific wishes in a family is to write an estate plan.
It's natural to have concerns about the well being of loved ones when it comes to estate planning. That's why this process can be used to address some of life's toughest questions such as:
- How are marital assets passed on after death?
- How will the children receive assets?
- How do I ensure that health care needs are met if we are unable to care for ourselves?
- Is our estate subject to taxation?
- Will I have enough to live in a single household after retirement?
What should be included in an estate plan that can incorporate the needs of women, wives and widows?
As the name suggests, a living trust is a document that is effective during a person's lifetime. Unlike a will, a living trust outlines how an estate is managed if the grantor (the person writing the trust) is unable to make decisions for herself.
Retirement accounts come with beneficiary designations, which answer the question of who will receive the funds when the account holder dies. Beneficiary designations can change at the wishes of the account holder, and should be reviewed every few years. The designation of an account can also be written into a will and estate plan.
Accommodating a woman's life expectancy and familial wishes into an estate plan is crucial in marriage and beyond.