Having a well thought out estate plan in place is important for every adult; however, for women, estate planning can take on a heightened importance for several reasons. To help women with their estate planning concerns, the California estate planning attorneys at Collins Law Group have put together the answers to several frequently asked questions about estate planning for women. If you have additional questions, or need assistance with your estate plan, please feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment for a consultation.
1. Why is estate planning important for women?
Statistically, women are more likely to outlive their spouse, ultimately leaving them to be the one to pass down the marital assets to children and other beneficiaries. Women also tend to me the caretakers of the family, making them more likely to be concerned with issues such as guardians for minor children and even plans for again parents. Finally, more and more women are becoming entrepreneurs, adding in another important estate planning consideration into an already lengthy list of estate planning components. For these reasons, and more, estate planning for women is important.
2. Why are the benefits of executing a Last Will and Testament?
The most well-known benefit of executing a Will is knowing that you will not die intestate. If you fail to execute at least a basic Will prior to your death, the California intestate succession laws will decide how your estate assets are distributed. Typically, this means that only a spouse and/or very close relatives will inherit from your estate. Close friends, charities, and more distant relatives will receive nothing from your estate. In addition, executing a Will allows you the only official opportunity you will have to nominate a Guardian for your minor children in the event one is ever needed.
3. Should I create a joint plan with my spouse or a separate plan?
Ultimately, this is a decision you must make after consulting with your estate planning attorney; however, as a general rule, it is usually better for spouses to create plans that work in harmony with one another but that remain separate. Because there is no way to know, with certainty, what the future will bring, you do not want to create an estate plan that is completely dependent on your spouse’s plan to function properly.
4. Why is incapacity planning important?
Incapacity planning should be part of your estate plan from the beginning because incapacity can strike at any time and to anybody. Without an incapacity plan in place, you have no way of knowing who will make health care decisions for you, who will take over control of your assets, or who will make personal decisions if you cannot make them yourself.
5. Should I include retirement planning in my estate plan?
The odds are good that you will outlive your spouse. This makes retirement planning even more important for you as a woman. You need to be certain that you will have sufficient assets and income to live comfortably if your spouse is the first to go. Because retirement planning and estate planning are so closely related, and a change in one plan almost always affects the other plan, it is always best to combine your retirement and estate planning into one cohesive plan.
6. How should my spouse and I title assets for estate planning purposes?
This is often overlooked by couples. The way in which you title assets can determine whether the asset is required to go through the probate process or is automatically transferred to the surviving spouse upon the death of one spouse. Titling assets as joint owners with rights of survivorship means that the asset will bypass probate upon the death of one owner and that owner’s interest in the asset will transfer directly to the surviving owner (spouse).
7. Will I need to qualify for Medi-Cal?
Over half of all seniors in long-term care (LTC) rely on Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) to cover the high cost of that care. Again, because you are statistically more likely to outlive your spouse, you need to plan ahead for the possibility that you will one day need LTC. Conversely, Medi-Cal planning is also important to ensure that your spouse does not deplete your entire nest egg with his LTC expenses, leaving you with nothing.
If you have additional questions or concerns relating to estate planning for women in the State of California, contact the experienced California estate planning attorneys at Collins Law Group by calling (310) 677-9787 to register for one of our FREE Estate Planning Workshops.