Women need to lead because it is typically the woman that sits in front of the undertaker given that – statistically speaking — her husband will die first. Thus, she has to deal with the immediate arrangements involving the disposition of her husband’s body and the settlement of his estate. These tasks can be overwhelming – especially when accompanied by the grief process – unless she has taken an active role in the couple’s estate and funeral planning.
Importantly, a woman needs a solid handle on what happens to her financially upon her husband’s death. What assets remain for her? How liquid (i.e. accessible) are those assets? What will happen to her standard of living? Should she keep the house or sell it?
The woman’s standard of living likely will be reduced after the death of her spouse because the total value of Social Security payments received by the household will decrease after the husband’s death.
Knowledge empowers. Women typically fare better when they have the control that comes from (1) understanding their personal financial picture; and (2) having an updated estate plan in place.
Given her statistically longer life, a woman likely will need money to cover more retirement years than her husband will need. And, her longer life may mean that her medical needs are greater, too. A Minnesota durable power of attorney will be particularly beneficial for handling certain financial matters as the woman ages and perhaps develops dementia. A Minnesota health care directive will provide assurance that the agents that she names will follow her wishes related to her body when she can no longer communicate for herself.
Done correctly, the estate planning process involves a review of the couple’s assets and includes recommendations as to who should be the owner of each asset, and how beneficiary designations might best be handled. The discussion with an estate planning attorney will also help her understand when probate is and isn’t required in Minnesota.
A Revocable Living Trust may enhance her control. A Revocable Living Trust provides a mechanism for management of the woman’s assets during any periods of her incapacity or periods when she prefers to relinquish control to her successor trustee. A Revocable Living Trust may also make settlement of her estate simpler. Typically, there’s no court involvement with Revocable Living Trusts – before or after death. Probate involves the court.
If a is involved, and there are children from first marriages, estate planning is especially important to protect some assets for the children of the first of the couple to die.
The best time to prepare an estate plan is now. When you get your affairs in order you can confidently go on with the rest of your life!
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