The 3 Estate Planning Documents Every Woman Needs
Author: Stacy Hanley
Today, millions of women must play more roles in their lives than they ever have before—boss, coworker, employee, daughter, wife, mother, friend, coach, etc. Women keep the family calendar, plan the kids’ chores, help with school activities and oversee schoolwork, make the doctor’s appointments, plan dinner, drive carpools, arrange social events and play dates, and the list goes on.
Numerous studies have shown that regardless of whether women work part-time, full time, or entirely in the home, women do far more housework than men, take more responsibility in caring for the children, and have far less leisure time than their male spouses.
Since their plates are already full, women tend to delegate the financial and estate planning decisions to their husbands.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many female friends, family members, and clients tell me they haven’t looked at a tax return in years, that they don’t know who is on the title to their house, or whether their bank accounts are jointly held.
Before I go any further, I need to clarify that my mission in bringing these realities to light is not to show women all the ways they need to fix themselves. My goal is to expose the social forces that constrain women from actively participating during financial and estate planning conversations and to provide a framework to make it easier for them to engage in this process.
It is my sincere belief that this process begins with us, who, as advisors, can and should change our behavior toward women. The first step in this process is to ask women to come to the table and then to explain the process in a way that isn’t so overwhelming.
Let’s start with the basics…
What documents do you need in your estate plan?
A basic estate planning package consists of three documents:
- General Power of Attorney
- Advance Health Care Directive
Every person, regardless of age, income, marital status, number of dependents, etc. should have at least these three documents established.
Under special circumstances, you might also consider creating some of the following documents:
This type of trust is created during your life but can be revoked by you at any time. You may create a living/revocable trust if:
- You are worried about being taken advantage of should you become incapacitated
- You live in GA but own real property in a state with costly probate (like Florida)
- You want to avoid probate court because you either want to cut out heirs from your beneficiary designations or you cannot find your heirs
This trust gets created upon your death by the terms of your Will. You may create a testamentary trust if:
- You are concerned that your beneficiaries’ inheritance could be subject to unfriendly creditors, an ugly divorce, bad business decisions, etc.
- You need to make arrangements for a child who has failed to launch
- Your children/grandchildren have drug and alcohol problems
- You only want your assets used for a singular purpose, such as education
Similar to a living trust, this trust is created during your life. However, an irrevocable trust also transfers ownership of the assets to the trust itself. You might create an irrevocable trust for:
- Estate Tax Planning
- Avoiding tax liability on any income generated by trust assets
- Protection from creditors
For more information on these documents and what you need to know about the estate planning process, you can watch my free workshop, “Building Blocks of Estate Planning,” here.
Estate Planning with Lefkoff-Duncan
If you’re ready to take the driver’s seat to your future, Lefkoff-Duncan is here to help. Our experienced team will assist you in all of your estate planning endeavors so that you’ll never again need to wonder if you’ve done enough to take care of the ones you love. Give us a call at your convenience at 404-262-2000 to get started.