The Importance of Legacy Planning for Women

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You know I believe legacy planning is important for every adult who has any assets (and I don’t mean only money). You probably have personal property. You probably have memories of how life was when you were a child or life situations that should be shared. You could get ill or incapacitated and will need someone to make decisions for you. And, yes, no matter what – you will die.

These reasons apply to just about everyone – male or female. But there are actually some specific reasons women should be part of planning decisions or, if they are single, should have their own plans:

  • 36% of women 65 or older are widowed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (12% for men 65 or older).
  • Women earned on average $0.80 to every $1 earned by men in 2015 (80%), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • A woman turning 65 today can expect to live another 21 years (on average); men reaching 65 can expect to live another 19 years, according to the Social Security Administration.

These statistics indicate that it is highly likely married women will end up on their own during their later years. Single women need to think about how to handle the financial and health aspects of a longer life. And retirement planning for women takes on a different challenge since women tend to earn less.

How to address these issues?

  • First, women need to become more involved and more pro-active in financial, estate and retirement planning. They need to make sure their needs will be met in the way they expect or desire.
  • Women need to educate themselves on wealth management issues, such as investing, taxation and insurance. As women gain more control of personal finances for themselves and their families, they become more responsible for preserving and protecting financial well-being.
  • Women cannot, nor should anyone else, assume that once a plan is created it is done. Life changes. People divorce, marry, have children, buy a home, sell a home, change jobs, lose a job and, yes, sometimes die or become disabled. Any financial or legacy plan needs to keep pace with the various changes that happen in life.

And, advisors need to recognize the value of having women more involved in the planning process, as well as helping women create their own financial, estate or legacy plans.

But it isn’t all about money either.

  • Women tend to give more to charity than men. And they tend to give as a way to promote social change or help others in need. These altruistic and empathetic values are important, not just for individuals but for the community as well. They should be taught, preserved and shared with children and grandchildren.
  • Some of the most heated arguments among heirs can be over personal items, such as jewelry, the family silverware, dishes or that Persian carpet in the dining room. Very often the final determination of who gets what can be up to the surviving parent, which is often the mother. Discussing the issue with children and having a separate list of who inherits the items of personal property can avoid family conflicts after the parent dies.
  • Women have traditionally been and to a great extent continue to be the primary homemaker. How many memories and family traditions revolve around cherished recipes handed down from grandmother to mother or grandmother to aunt? This is part of a family legacy that needs to be preserved, along with family photos and stories that provide connections between generations.

These are just some of the areas where it is vital that women be involved in the ever-evolving estate and legacy planning process. Women make valuable contributions to all levels of familial and social prosperity and comfort. They need to be active participants in all levels of estate and legacy planning.

LegacyShield was designed and created to help individuals – both men and women – develop and preserve the legacy they want to leave. Our services can help prepare and store the information and documentation for the transference of wealth or advanced care instructions, as well as provide a safe, secure place to protect valuable family traditions and stories.

Our services are also available to advisors to bring added value to their financial and estate-planning client relationships.

 

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