Special issues that women should consider during estate planning

The ideal for the legal system in many ways is equal treatment for everyone under the law. However, people of different backgrounds have different concerns they need to address. That is certainly true in estate planning, where women may have to consider a different reality than men do.

Creating an estate plan is something that every adult with a job, assets or dependents should do. For women creating or updating an estate plan, there are certain special considerations that they should take under advisement during that process.

As a woman, you are probably going to live longer than men born in the same year

Women typically have a longer life expectancy than men of the same age and background by an average of just under five years. Obviously, if you will live for longer than some of your peers, you will have different estate planning concerns than they will.

The longer you live, the more likely it is that you will need to worry about nursing home expenses and end-of-life care. Carefully planning for the potential need for Medicaid benefits earlier in your life can help ensure that you still have a legacy to leave for your loved ones and the ability to access Medicaid insurance benefits if necessary.

Additionally, you may want to create your own estate plan or last will, even if you already have a joint one with your spouse. That way, if your spouse passes on before you, you already have your own wishes outlined in writing.

Women earn less on average, which impacts retirement funds

Your ability to retire comfortably will depend entirely on how much you earn during your professional career. If you live longer, those funds will need to cover more years. The gap in wages earned by men and women means that a professional woman will have less opportunity to save for her retirement than a man in a similar position.

Additionally, if a woman has children, she may have spent several years out of the workforce. Not only could that mean fewer savings, but it may mean fewer overall Social Security benefits, as those benefits depend on your total income and taxes paid.

Longer lives mean more potential for incapacitation

The longer you live, the more likely it is that you will experience cognitive decline as you age. In other words, women who live longer could have more medical issues to face in those additional years.

Creating a living will with an advance medical directive and a durable power of attorney that retains its authority in the event of your incapacitation can help protect your assets and your health as you enjoy your golden years. By careful planning based on your particular needs, you can enjoy improved security and peace of mind after you retire.

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