All Women Should Have An Estate Plan

Marshall Rathmell |


Estate planning once meant having an attorney prepare a will for you that would distribute your assets at your death. Today, estate planning is so much more. In addition to a plan for when you die, it is a plan that describes how you want to address the many things that could happen to you and your family during your lifetime. The increase in life expectancy has brought with it the increased prospect of living with a physical or mental disability. Estate planning provides you with a way to select who will take care of you and your assets if you are unable to.

Just as a first-time mother leaves detailed instructions when leaving their child, women today can leave detailed instructions on how they want their affairs handled when they are no longer able to handle them .

According to Patricia Annino, a nationally recognized authority on estate planning, women need to handle their estate planning in a way that will protect their assets, their families and themselves. All women should have an estate plan. The following is an excerpt from her book titled Women & Money:

• Wealthy women need to understand the gift and estate tax consequences of disposing of their assets, who is in control of their husbands’ wealth if he dies first, and who is in charge of the couple’s combined wealth when both die.

• Lower income women with children need to use estate planning to explore ways to create wealth through life insurance so that, if something happens to them, their children will be cared for and the mortgage on the house will be paid off.

• Single women need to decide whom they want in charge of their medical and financial affairs if they lose the ability to handle those decisions themselves.

• Married women need to be knowledgeable enough to participate jointly in the creation of the family plan that assures there will be enough to live on in the event of their death or their husband’s death. They must also be comfortable with the advisors placed in charge.

• Divorced women need estate planning to establish guardianship for their children, confirm their former husband’s support obligations and plan how money will be handled in the most beneficial way for their children.

• Estate planning can help women in second marriages consider prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, make sure their ability to live in a second spouse’s home after his death is discussed and understood, and clarify to all what assets will pass to the surviving spouse and what assets will pass to the children of the deceased spouse. It can help widows manage their financial affairs at disability and at death.

• Single women with minor children need estate planning to name a guardian for their children and the children’s property, figure out how that guardian is to be compensated, how the financial resources should be used, and what adjustments might to be made to accommodate the guardian and the larger family.

• Estate planning can help women with children who have special needs – autism, depression, schizophrenia – to make appropriate arrangements to handle the care and financial considerations, including understanding what governmental assistance programs exist.

• Women with elderly parents should use estate planning to explore long term care insurance, how their parents will be taken care of, how their assets will be managed, and make sure their plans are up to date.

As you can see estate planning is much more than distributing assets after death. All women should have an estate plan that provides legal protection for their assets, their families and themselves.

We have a passion to help people succeed. We feel people are more successful with an estate plan.

-Sandra Cleveland-