While everyone can benefit from a solid estate plan, proper estate planning is especially important for women. Whether you are a business owner, homemaker, or professional, all women need to take special care and consideration when planning for their estate.
Estate planning is especially important for women, because females typically have a longer life expectancy than males, and must manage expenses for a longer amount of time. And since women are more likely to outlive their husbands, they may have to deal with pressure from family members about their plans for their property and assets.
Below, we’ve listed some estate planning tips that may be of particular interest and application to women.
Plan for physical or mental incapacity. With longer life expectancy comes an increased likelihood of the physical and mental incapacity that often occurs in old age. That’s why it’s particularly important for women to set up a durable power of attorney that assigns responsibility for their financial and health care decisions to a trusted individual in the event of their incapacitation. Without a durable power of attorney, control of your assets and care could be assigned to a guardian chosen by the court.
Consider creating a trust. By creating a revocable living trust, you can protect your assets in the event of your incapacitation better than with a power of attorney alone. Trusts can protect your assets from creditors or a former spouse and ensure they are distributed according to your wishes.
Consider a prenuptial contract. A prenuptial agreement can protect your assets for your children, family, and loved ones in the event of your divorce. With a prenuptial contract in place, you can designate your spouse’s legal right to your assets, and ensure you beneficiary choices can be legally honored.
Assign guardians. If you are raising children or grandchildren, you should name a trusted guardian who can take over their care in the event of your incapacitation or death. Otherwise, care of minor children may be placed in the hands of a guardian chosen by Florida courts.
Designate beneficiaries. If you have made contributions to an IRA, 401k, or other retirement fund, it’s important to name beneficiaries on these accounts to allow for the transfer of these funds.
Consider gifting assets. You can gift a certain amount of money each year to beneficiaries without triggering gift taxes. This is a good strategy if you want to leave your assets to beneficiaries who are not your husband, and if you want to help reduce the taxes on your estate.
Reevaluate your estate plan after major life changes. It’s a good idea to revisit your estate plan after a major life change, such as a divorce, remarriage, death of a spouse, or birth of a child. You may need to make changes to your plan to accommodate such events if you want to be sure it reflects your current wishes.
Talk to your family about your estate plan. While it can be difficult, it’s very important to talk to your family about your estate plan. Through open discussion of your estate plans, you can explain your choices, reduce the potential for conflict and hurt feelings, and ensure your wishes are understood.
Consult with an estate planning attorney. Whether you are planning your estate or revisiting an old plan, it’s highly advisable to seek guidance from a knowledgeable Florida estate planning attorney. Your attorney can help you design a plan that honors your wishes, and places your care and estate in the hands of people you love and trust.
About the Author:
Christopher Q. Wintter is the founder of Wintter & Associates, P.A. and a board-certified expert in Trust and Estate matters by the Florida Bar. With more than 24 years’ experience as a practicing attorney, he also serves as an instructor and faculty member for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA)—the nation’s leading provider of legal advocacy skills training to practicing attorneys—and has earned the AV® Preeminent™ rating with LexisNexis Martindale Hubbell. He was also selected for inclusion in Florida Super Lawyers for 2011 and 2012 in Estate and Trust Litigation.