Why Is it So Important for Women to Participate in the Estate Planning Process?
Author: Stacy Hanley
If you’ve been following me for a while now, you know it is my greatest passion to empower and guide women through the estate planning process so they have the confidence and desire to speak up for what they want.
As I’ve said before, it’s never my intention to scare women or shame them into behaving differently. This isn’t where I tell you to “man up” — I doubt that would encourage you.
Instead, I want to educate you on the reasons why it is so important for women to play an active role when it comes to making estate planning decisions that will undoubtedly impact them down the road.
In my experience, I have seen four big consequences that can occur when women don’t participate in the financial and estate planning process.
They may run out of money.
When women haven’t been engaged in the process, they have no vocabulary or understanding of financial products such as mutual funds, stocks, bonds, annuities, trusts, yields, dividends, universal life insurance, etc. These terms mean nothing to them. With this lack of understanding, women tend to be more risk-averse with investments than men. This leads to their investment portfolios not generating nearly as much income.
Women who devote themselves (full-time or part-time) to raising their children see a loss of income. Rather than being paid to do this incredibly demanding work of creating human capital, women pay with lost earnings and missed opportunities. If/when these moms return to the workforce, they have no idea of their worth and accept lower salaries without negotiating at all. All of this compounds over time, leaving women with radically diminished financial security.
They may be subjected to financial liability.
I have had at least five female clients and friends who have been subjected to unnecessary income tax liability because they filed joint returns with their husbands who had either not paid self-employment taxes or took aggressive deductions. If they had known of these issues, they could have protected themselves and filed separate returns.
They may get taken advantage of.
A woman’s lack of preparation and understanding can also lead to that woman being taken advantage of with high fees or by purchasing financial products they don’t really need. When a woman becomes older, without proper estate planning, she can be subject to elder abuse. I saw one situation where a man convinced his elderly girlfriend to sign a Power of Attorney naming him as an agent. When she died, he didn’t notify the bank of her death and ended up draining her bank account.
They get blindsided by death or divorce.
If women are not prepared, they can get blindsided by an unexpected life event such as the death of a partner, disability of a partner, or a divorce. For example, the standard of living for women falls by an average of 73% after a divorce while a man’s rises by an average of 42%.
Finally, having to make high-stakes choices regarding financial and estate planning while grieving over the loss of a spouse, dealing with a parent with Alzheimer’s, or fighting with an ex in the courts, is extremely difficult.
Again, it’s not my intention or desire to scare you, but I would be doing you a great disservice if I were to remain silent about these situations women are experiencing far too often!
If you want to take a more active role in the estate planning process but aren’t sure where to start, contact me at 678-704-2606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.