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Estate planning tips for women: Wives, mothers and more

As a New Jersey woman, you may be wondering how you can create an estate plan that will successfully serve the needs of your financial holdings. Experts say that although estate planning tools look the same for both genders, women may have some different considerations simply because they tend to live longer. Further, women are more likely to become custodial parents, so additional factors weigh in their estate planning decisions.

Women tend to overlook the impact of the death of a spouse, parent or other relatives. Statistics show that about one in three women age 65 and older are widows. That is more than double the number of men in the same situation. It is, therefore, more important for women to pay attention to the legal and financial ramifications of a spouse predeceasing them. These spouses need to consider the ways in which life insurance and various trusts can be used to ease the estate planning process.

In one case, a woman found out that her husband chose to receive maximum pension benefits throughout his lifetime, so the pension payments end at his death. If he dies before his wife does, she will be left without an income! This couple is entering their golden years, so there is little chance of changing this situation. If, however, the couple had reviewed the information decades ago, they might have been able to avoid the peril that may now affect the wife by setting up a trust.

The key to proper estate planning for both men and women tends to lie in simple communications. It is critical for family members to talk about their estate plans and ideas with each other. This is not only useful for married women, but also for those who serve as caregivers for parents; how will your father provide for your mother if he dies first? Starting the conversation will help spark the plans that could protect your financial stability and those of your heirs.

Source: Market Watch, "How women can make estate planning easier" Andrea Coombes, May. 08, 2014

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