Estate planning is vital for all people wishing to have control over the distribution of their assets following their death. Women, in particular, should take time to plan their estates. In the U.S., women control nearly 40% of the nation’s investible assets and nearly half of those assets are managed solely by women.
Many women outlive their husbands by a number of years. Outliving your partner tends to mean that you inherit their estate. Most spouses will be sole beneficiaries of each other’s’ estates. This means that the surviving spouse will be in full control over the final disposition of the assets. If your spouse didn’t make plans and you are aware of special instructions or requests they would have wanted, it is your job to make those plans now. For instance: if your spouse had children prior to your marriage and wanted them to have an inheritance but didn’t plan, it is now up to you to decide whether or not to include those wishes in your own estate plan.
Planning for Heirs
Distribution of your assets through a will or trust allows you to have control over to whom your estate will be divided when you are gone. These planning devices allow you to lay plans for specific gifts you may wish to leave behind.
Despite societal changes in the past several decades, women still primarily fulfill the role of caregivers in families. From an estate planning aspect, this means that they are typically more inclined to leave assets to children or grandchildren to plan for their future care and even education. Planning for minor children can include appointing a guardian. This guardian is tasked with being legally responsible for your minor children in the event of your passing. If you do not have minor children, but wish to leave all or part of your estate to a minor, the executor of your estate will be in charge of properly distributing these assets.
Planning for Charitable Causes
For those who are charitably inclined, it may be important to have plans in place. It is important to choose a charitable organization or association that is both reputable and dear to you. Without a proper plan, your assets will be distributed according to the will of the state and your dearest charities may be left out in the cold. While a large outright gift may be a part of your plan, it is also possible to establish gifts that will continue to make an impact for years to come through trusts or perpetuity funds.
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