March 8 marks International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate advances and achievements by women around the world, as well as advocating for increasing gender equality when it comes to social issues such as closing the pay gap and positioning more women in leadership roles. It is also important to recognize the tremendous economic contributions and continuing caregiving duties women bring to their households and often to their extended families and larger communities.
The household duties women fulfill should not be marginalized, especially considering the fact that women live longer than men, a trend that has continued for over a century. Because of this, women are more likely to be left in charge of significant financial assets upon the death of spouse, such as the house and financial accounts, which can have lasting consequences.
Due to these critical financial and social roles, coupled with longer lifespans, it is especially critical for women to secure and preserve their assets for the benefit of future generations, which can be done with proper estate planning, including documents such as wills and trusts.
Continue reading to learn of three important reasons for women to have an estate plan in place.
Women Can Wield More Control Over the Estate.
Because women outlive men, they are more likely to become widows, leaving them as the final survivors of a generation. This means that women can choose how to protect hard earned assets to secure for future generations by taking control of the estate with proper planning. This is important to do because de facto government inheritance laws may not be in accordance with what or how an individual would want the estate distributed. By taking control and planning through a will or trust, women can decide who to give what, and when or under what conditions. This is especially important when one is seeking to avoid family conflicts or valuable assets falling into hands of an heir who may not be able to manage it responsibly.
Women May Have More Wealth to Distribute upon Death.
Although men earn significantly more than women, because women live longer, they have a potentially longer time horizon to accumulate income and other assets to their estates. Additionally, women may be more likely to inherit wealth through the death of a spouse, which increases their wealth and makes them the last survivor of a generation. Therefore, it is important to have final orders and wishes in writing to safely and effectively pass on assets to the next generation.
Women Can Name Guardians to Protect Their Minor Children.
Although women have achieved and continue to strive for more advancement outside the home, women are still the majority caretakers of children, as well as informal caretakers of spouses and parents. This means that in event of death, it is critical for women who are caretakers of minor children to have an estate plan that names a guardian for their children. The same applies for women who are legal guardians of elderly or disabled dependents.
While it is important for everyone to have a will or other estate planning document in place to distribute final wishes, it is especially important for women to have these needs met. Women tend to outlive men, meaning they will potentially inherit and accumulate more wealth throughout their longer lifetimes. Women can then control their estates for the benefit of future generations. Finally, because women are often family caretakers, they can name guardians for minor children or other dependent loved ones whom they care for with proper estate planning.
- This information is for general educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.
If you are considering your estate planning needs, Make an appointment with Patterson Justice Counsel and Attorney Tina M. Patterson for your consultation today. Don’t rush into decisions without the full and appropriate legal advice and backing.
Tina M. Patterson is the Principal Attorney of Patterson Justice Counsel, PLLC. She is an attorney licensed in the State of Michigan and Federal Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.