Women in California and elsewhere, regardless of their marital or parental status, should have an estate plan. It allows you to make your wishes clear and in accordance with the law regarding, for example, who gets your assets when you die or if you become incapacitated.
But is the estate planning process different for a woman than it is for a man? Actually, there may indeed be unique factors to be aware of if you are a woman doing your estate planning.
For one thing, women tend to live nearly five years longer than men, so they need to consider what happens if they become widowed. They also sometimes have gaps in their employment history because they stopped working, either temporarily or permanently, to raise a family. This means some women have a smaller amount set aside for retirement savings.
Tips for women on estate planning
- Keep track of all your assets. That includes bank accounts, investments, and retirement accounts.
- Have adequate insurance coverage in case your spouse predeceases you. You might want to think about getting life insurance to take care of your final expenses or possibly estate taxes.
- Sometimes women, as well as men, are reluctant to think about the handling of their assets after they die because it’s a grim topic. Still, you can have more control over the whole process by planning in advance.
- You are likely to outlive your husband or life partner. Take charge of your finances while you are alive and plan for what happens after your death.
There are three key documents you should probably have. One is your will, which discusses how you want your assets dealt with following your death. Another is a living will, which has your instructions concerning end-of-life issues. The third is called “durable power of attorney for health care,” which authorizes one or more individuals to make decisions for you if you cannot do so.
An attorney experienced in estate planning is a good source of information about this subject.