A recent Forbes.com article by a Forbes Senior Editor makes the case for why women should be taking a more thorough approach to wills and estate planning in New York and throughout the country.
The article leans on a recent survey by EZLaw, which the New York Probate Lawyer Blog commented on recently. According to the survey, which was conducted with a random sampling of Americans about the importance of wills and estate planning, women were more concerned with their weight (47 percent) than with the protection of their assets (43 percent). All told, the majority of those surveyed believe that having a will is important, but few have the documents in place.
In the last half a century, women have made many positive strides in gaining rights, working toward equality in the workforce and in their ability to join the hierarchy of many of the country's Fortune 500 companies. For this reason and for many others, women, just like men, must take an interest in protecting their assets. But this is best done with the knowledge and experience of a New York City Estate Planning Attorney, who can guide clients through the complex area of estate planning, wills and trusts.
"Does this mean women have more will power when it comes to their waistlines, than when it comes to estate planning?" the Forbes article's author asks. "If so, it's a shame, because estate planning affects women profoundly."
According to the article, among Americans 65 and older, 42 percent of women, compared to 14 percent of men, are widowed. Women are expected to live longer. This longevity combined with a woman's tendency to marry older spouses and earn less over the span of their lifetime, means they could suffer the consequences if their estate isn't planned properly.
"Perhaps worst of all is how a lack of planning can affect families of young children," the author writes. "Without a will, if your children are minors and you were a single or surviving parent, a court will appoint a guardian for them."
The author implores women to have the talk about estate planning not only with their spouses, but also with their adult children and their own parents.
With spouses: Relating the end of life to current events, a person they know who's sick or even wanting to provide for the kids may be ways to bring up this less-than-attractive topic of conversation. But either way, it needs to be done. Estate planning isn't just a when-I-die necessity, it should be done so that the individual will be taken care of if their health fails at any stage of life.
With adult children: While a parent to an adult child has no obligation to change their plans based on their kids' preferences, talking it over can help. Explaining the decision rather than making it a surprise upon death can save lots of frustration and sibling rivalry down the road.
With your parents: This can be difficult because some people would view this as being greedy, but it is important to talk with your parents if you notice a decline in mental capacity later in their life. Once they lose competence, they can't make binding commitments, so estate-planning documents must be handled before that happens.
Manhattan Estate Attorney Jules M. Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to intestate estates, estate planning, kinship and estate settlement. I have represented clients in these matters throughout New York including Westchester and Manhattan. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.
More Blog Entries:
Queens and Brooklyn Will and Estate Planning is Necessary: July 19, 2011
Nice Girls Talk About Estate Planning, by Deborah L. Jacobs, Forbes.com