What Does Estate Planning Mean for Women? Part 1

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series that focuses on Women and Estate Planning as we celebrate Mother’s Day 2014. Part 1 sheds some light on beneficiary designations and staying involved in the estate planning process.

The life expectancy of women continues to rise, leaving women widowed at a higher rate than men. In addition, women will spend more time caring for spouses, aging parents and children. A few things women should consider if widowed, married, divorced, single, a parent or childless:

  1. Get information from your spouse, partner or loved ones about beneficiary designations on life insurance polices, 401k plans, retirement accounts, bank accounts and other assets.
  2. Many women leave these important items up to others to handle. If you have small children that need support, you need to ask questions about whether life insurance is up to date and how much the policy is worth.
  3. Far too often women fail to get involved and they are left with few assets to take care of children when something happens. Think about what is needed to house, clothe and educate your children. How dependent is your family on the other parent’s income?
  4. If you have recently become a parent, lost a loved one, changed jobs, or transferred assets, contact your insurance companies, employer human resources department, banks and other organizations where you have accounts and plans. Do not hesitate to make the call, send an email, visit your bank, employer or financial advisor to make sure that your beneficiary designations are up to date. Request new forms, if changes are necessary.
  5. Most companies have a default policy for invalid or blank beneficiary designations. Some default policies are to distribute funds to your estate. This may not be what you want. If funds go to your estate they may be subject to creditors claims.

Look out for Part 2 of this series coming soon.


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