Do Women Care Less About Estate Planning in New York?

As the New York Probate Lawyer Blog recently reported, women in New York and elsewhere are resistant to planning their estate. A recent Forbes article encourages women to take the necessary steps.

While women aren’t alone in their procrastination of estate planning in New York, they seem to take an approach more lax than their male counterparts. While no one likes to plan their death and what will happen to their assets after, it is a critical aspect of adulthood. Many women take to the task once they realize its importance as, in many ways, they are more organized and more conscientious — particularly when it comes to providing for children.
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No one really wants their assets dealt with by a judge and other strangers. And if you have children, they must be taken care of, with specific plans to help them live their lives without the aid of parents. Yet a recent survey found that 47 percent of women were concerned with their weight, compared to 43 percent who care about protecting their assets and contacting an experienced New York City Probate Lawyer to help them get their affairs in order.

A new Forbes article, by the same author, looks at the topic again, questioning why woman are so resistant to taking the matter into their own hands. To be fair, men are not exactly lining up at the doors of estate planners. It’s a problem for both sexes. A reluctance to deal with death is just part of it. Another is the mistaken belief that only the rich need such services. In reality, proper estate planning and making the most out of your legacy is even more important for those middle class families of moderate means.

By most accounts, the average person believes death is a far-off event that can be addressed at a later time. But the reality is that these estate matters must be handled now, with sound mind and with the best interests of the person and their loved ones in mind.

As the author of the article states, women with children are unlikely to plan their estates. Yet the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks should remind us all that planning is essential, even when chances of death seem remote. And older women are even more behind in their estate planning. Because they tend to live longer and marry older spouses, they are more likely to be widowed and must make decisions on what will be left to survivors.

Here are a few estate-related questions for women to consider:

What’s the difference between a will and a living trust? Both a will and living trust are documents able to transfer assets, but only a will can be used to appoint a child’s guardian. A living trust can hold assets while you are alive, which can have a number of benefits.

Whom to trust? The power of attorney is critical and should appoint a person you trust, like a family member or close friend.

Who will take care of the kids? Without proper planning, children can be thrust into a custody battle or maybe no family members will be willing to step up and take care of your child. That’s why filing formalized documents can clear the air and decide who will care for the children subject to Court oversight.

What is in savings? Make sure there is money set aside to pay for funeral costs, burial and other short-term related costs because often, joint money or retirement accounts can be frozen for some time.


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. He has 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 him at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.

More Blog Entries:

New York Women Must Plan Out Their Estates: August 25, 2011
Additional Resources:

The Shrinking Violets of Estate Planning, by Deborah L. Jacobs, Forbes.com

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