Saturday, May 21, 2011
In a field still dominated by men, there's a lingering tradition of paternalistic tools and techniques--such as locking inheritances up in trusts for widows who presumably can't even balance a checkbook, let alone manage hundreds of thousands or millions in assets, or who might fall prey to financial predators. The December estate tax overhaul poses another, very different risk, namely, that women will capitulate to strategies that put them at financial disadvantage.
Estate planning affects women more profoundly, so they should take charge of this process, or at least be equal participants. Among Americans 65 and older, 42% of women, but just 14% of men, are widowed. Women's longer life expectancy, combined with their tendency to marry older mates and their lower lifetime earnings means they are far more likely to see their living standards compromised in retirement if proper estate planning isn't done. And since it is women who are most often widowed, they usually have the last word about which of a couple's assets ultimately go to family, charity or the taxman.
Here are the questions every financially savvy woman should be able to answer:
- What key deadlines apply when a spouse dies?
- What's a tax dowry?
- What's the difference between a will and a living trust?
- Whom can you trust?
- Who would raise your children?
- Is there money in the bank?
- Should you give away assets now to save taxes?
While important to both sexes, estate planning often affects women more profoundly. Women live longer on average and tend to marry older spouses, making them three times as likely as men to be widowed at 65. So for women, estate planning is a crucial part of retirement planning. And since they usually survive their spouses, women more often have the last word about how much wealth goes to family, charity or the taxman.
- Caring For Yourself Is No. 1
- Everyone Has an Estate
- A Will and Living Trust Aren't the Same
- Trusts Arne't Only for the Rich
- Spouses Get Special Tax Breaks
- Tax Planning for Widows Is Harder
- Don't Own Your Insurance
- Beneficiary Form Are Key
- Cash is Crucial