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VOL. 131 | NO. 235 | Thursday, November 24, 2016

Dana and Ray Brandon

Estate Planning for Women

BY RAY AND DANA BRANDON

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Ray’s Take Women have special estate-planning needs that may sometimes be overlooked. Statistically, women live longer than most men and also tend to choose husbands who are older. 

In fact, women live an average of 4.8 years longer than men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which means they are likely to become widowed and live on their own for a number of years. Among Americans 65 and older, 42 percent of women are widowed and only 14 percent of men are widowed.

Without proper financial planning, many married women will see their standard of living reduced during their retirement years. Women should be an active participant in financial planning. An unknowledgeable widow will likely be confused and uncertain, while one who has participated in the planning process will more easily understand it. 

In today’s competitive economy, both a husband and wife frequently have serious careers with associated benefits. More women are entering marriages with assets equal to their husbands. That’s a lot of assets that need to be combined and planned for strategically.

Women also need to plan for the possibility of incapacity in their later years, as they are more likely to be without a spouse to assist them. A long-term care plan can be an asset in the estate plan of anyone, but especially women. And, as possible caregivers, they need to plan for the continued care of those who may be dependent upon them. Children and parents, the bookends of the sandwich generation, will need to be factored into the estate plan to cover all possibilities. 

Women’s unique situations need thoughtful estate planning for retirement, long-term health care, children’s care and education, and parental dependence, as well as asset protection.

Dana’s Take As women, our lives and relationships are ever-changing and so are our financial needs. It’s important to get an annual financial checkup to make sure your finances match your upcoming needs. 

My friend is about to get married for the second time. Her children are grown, as are his. She recently inherited money and her fiancé owns a business. Is it time for a financial checkup? You bet. 

Wisely, she made an appointment with her estate-planning attorney to update her will. Should she leave everything to her new husband, her children, a favorite charity or a little to each? That’s a very tough question that she was brave enough to answer. No matter who my friend names, her loved ones will be glad she formalized her wishes in a will.

Looking after our finances helps women be prepared for life’s changes. 

Ray Brandon, CEO of Brandon Financial Planning, and his wife, Dana, a licensed clinical social worker, can be reached at brandonplanning.com.

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