Women who want to build a strong legacy must consider the future. Estate planning is important for everyone, but it’s especially crucial for those hoping to leave something of substance behind.
The idea of legacies is especially salient during March, which is International Women’s History Month. Countless powerful and influential women have built legacies of resilience and positive change, and many have done so through proper foresight and planning.
Financial Disadvantages Faced by Women
Communities across the globe are defined by the women who shape them. In celebration of International Women’s Month, we believe in empowering women to build and secure their legacy as they go about changing the world. While women’s legacies are crucial, men are statistically more likely to build an estate plan.
The disparity between the sexes in terms of planning their estates is not surprising. For most of U.S. history, women haven’t been extended the rights and opportunities afforded to men.
For instance, women in some jurisdictions were prohibited from opening their own bank accounts until the 1970s. This kind of structural oppression made it difficult if not impossible for most women to build a strong financial legacy.
Even with more recent strides toward gender equality, women still face many challenges, including:
- Lower average pay than their male counterparts
- Higher likelihood of childcare responsibilities
- Higher likelihood of engaging in unpaid domestic labor
Because of the wide range of financial challenges women face, estate planning is vital. Also, because women tend to live longer than men, they must plan for the deaths of their spouses or partners.
Understanding Estate Plans
Estate planning is the process of arranging the management and distribution of a person’s assets and property following their death.
This legal process often includes the following steps:
- Drafting a will
- Establishing trusts
- Naming beneficiaries
- Creating durable powers of attorney
This type of planning helps to secure the estate holder’s financial and healthcare matters.
Estate planning can help minimize tax burdens on the person’s loved ones. It can also ensure that end-of-life care preferences are met and that valuable assets are protected. Regularly review and update your estate plan to reflect any major life changes or decisions.
Why Estate Plans Are Important for Women
Women often face unique challenges related to their estate plans. Common examples include longer life expectancies, potential caregiver responsibilities, and the aforementioned pay gap.
When you’re considering your legacy, you should start by taking inventory of your assets. It’s also important to determine your goals for the distribution of your estate.
With the help of an estate planning lawyer, you should consider the impact of taxes on your legacy. In particular, you’ll want to account for the effects of estate and gift taxes.
A skilled legal professional can help you enact strategies to minimize the tax burden on your beneficiaries. You must also take steps to ensure that your estate plan reflects your wishes for end-of-life care. This includes advance directives and healthcare proxies.
Finally, it’s important to assess and update your estate plan periodically, especially following a major life change. Typical examples of life changes include:
- The birth of a child
- The death of a beneficiary or executor
By engaging in thoughtful estate planning, women can effectively protect their assets. An effective estate plan will also ensure that their wishes are fulfilled after their deaths.
International Women’s Month is an excellent time to consider how an estate plan can help you secure your legacy. Speaking with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you secure your assets and property while protecting your loved ones from needless tax burdens.
Reach out to an estate planning attorney at OC Wills & Trusts in Orange County, California. Our team will help you leave a legacy that gives peace of mind.