Comprehensive estate planning is an important consideration for everyone. There are many important factors to consider when engaging in responsible estate planning, not the least of which being how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. Most people will face questions about this concern at some point in their life, especially as they get older. However, a recent article from Forbes notes that women have some unique concerns when it comes to estate planning.
Statistics show that women live longer than men. In fact, the article notes that women are expected to live 4.9 years longer than men. This means that there are several more years of rising healthcare costs that women may need to worry about when engaging in estate planning and planning for retirement. Women need to make sure that their assets will be able to carry them through the extra years they will statistically have, which may involve paying close attention to your spouse’s estate planning portfolio because it could have a significant impact on your own estate planning choices and goals.
While traditional gender roles continue to fall away, many women still face increased financial concerns during their retirement. Women still make less than men on average, and many women have shorter work histories than their spouses or other male counterparts for any number of reasons including family or even early retirement. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to consider how or even if these financial challenges will affect you in retirement because their effect could severely diminish your estate and ability to pass the most assets to your heirs.
Relying on a Spouse’s Estate Plan
As women are likely to live longer than men, it is important for them to have a comprehensive estate plan of their own in place – especially after the death of a spouse. Many women find themselves without their own comprehensive estate plan believing that their spouse’s plan will cover them, too. While this might be the case sometimes, more often than not you will need to review and potentially revise your joint or individual estate plan after the death of a spouse. Failing to do so could leave you without a valid Last Will & Testament and that could significantly impact your ability to pass on assets to your heirs – especially if you want to do so without probate.
If your spouse dies before you, whether you are a male or female, you will likely have a significant amount of tax concerns to deal with and address. If your spouse has left a large portion of their estate to you, you could be subject to federal and/or state estate taxes or you could end up subjecting your heirs to those taxes if you are not careful about how you approach them. There are a number of ways an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand the potential tax consequences of your joint and/or individual estate plan, but taking proactive steps to understand the impact taxes can have is an important first step for everyone involved in estate planning.