Ladies, in today’s world we are exposed to all kinds of sound bites, headlines and political propaganda….. “the war on women,” “wage inequality,” and other such catch phrases designed to incite feelings of helplessness, fear, betrayal and injustice.
What can you, as an individual woman, do about it? Instead of trying to figure out this Rubik’s Cube of global and national women’s issues, how about taking a look at your own personal situation first?
How educated are you on your finances and estate planning? As women, we are most profoundly affected by the death or disability of a loved one. Not only are women more often the care-givers, but women are also more often widowed than men.
Regardless of age, women need to play an active role in their own financial and estate planning, as well as that of their families. Often times it’s the women in the family that are the ones to initiate the process for other loved ones.
If you have recently married or divorced, have you updated your estate planning documents to add (or remove) your (ex)spouse? What about updating beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement accounts? Remember that the current designations on those accounts control the distribution of those assets – even if you have updated your Will.
If you are the care-giver for older or disabled parents, have you discussed with your parents their wishes and helped them to take steps to memorialize those wishes within their estate planning documents? If you have other siblings, a family meeting can be very helpful to make sure everyone is clear on the wishes of your parents.
If you are a widow, have you reviewed your financial plan with a professional? Have you updated your estate planning documents and beneficiary designations? Have you met with an attorney to discuss electing portability of your deceased husband’s unused federal estate tax exemption?
Currently, (in 2016) every individual can exempt $5.45 million in assets from estate/gift taxes (during life or at death). The unused exemption of a deceased spouse can be passed to a surviving spouse, but only by making an election and filing an estate tax return in a timely manner (regardless of whether any taxes are due).
Since women typically live longer, often times we are the ones left in control of how the family’s assets will ultimately be distributed. With this control comes great responsibility.
Make sure you are educated on how to protect your wealth and your health!