Important Estate Planning Strategies For Women
Estate planning is for everyone, but it is especially important to think about if you are a woman. Statistics show that women are more likely to live longer than their husbands. Therefore, a woman may have to pay estate taxes on assets that both she and her partner accrued during their lifetime. Fortunately, there are estate planning strategies for women that can help dramatically reduce any tax burden.
However, many women (and men) put off planning their estate. Are you one of the millions of American women who does not have a plan in place? Though estate planning may seem costly and time-consuming, it can pay off in the future. We recommend that you meet with our Denver estate planning lawyer. This is an important first step toward protecting your assets and accomplishing your long-term goals.
What You Need to Know About Intestate Inheritance
If you die intestate, then you die without a will or a trust that conveys your assets to your beneficiaries. If this occurs, then the state of Colorado distributes your property based on its laws.
When this occurs, the law makes certain assumptions about where your property goes. In some states, intestate descent laws prefer “blood” to “marriage.” This means, the state will give a share of your estate to your children or to your parents, rather than to your surviving spouse. In other states, your surviving spouse will inherit your entire estate and your children (and parents) do not get anything.
Also, the intestacy rules in most states give no part of your estate to family members who are not related to you by blood, marriage or adoption. Examples include stepparents or life partners. For this reason, it is particularly important for unmarried couples to write a will. A Denver estate planning attorney can help protect you and your life partner from being left with nothing after one of you passes away.
How Do Elective Share Provisions Affect Estate Planning for Women?
There are limitations on your freedom when you give away your property in a will. If you are married, then it is very difficult to disinherit your spouse. State laws generally entitle a surviving spouse to take a portion of the decedent’s estate. This is regardless of the deceased spouse’s will or estate plan.
For example, if your husband dies without a will, or with a will that makes no provision for you, then you can take a statutorily defined elective share of the estate. This means that you can choose to accept the amount offered by law. Generally, the law offers one-third or one-half of the estate.
Elective share provisions are troubling to many people entering into second marriages, particularly late in life. Even if you have only been married a short time, your surviving spouse would potentially be eligible to take up to one-half of your property at death, even if you designated it to go to your children.
Revisions to the Uniform Probate Code (adopted by several states) provide a sliding scale for surviving spouses who take against the will. Under this approach, the longer the marriage, the higher the elective share. This helps to minimize one source of worry for older couples who want to pass assets along to their children.
Why Living Trusts Are Useful Estate Planning Tools for Women
Women are statistically likely to outlive male partners. Because of this, it is important for women to make plans for issues like incapacity or the need for a guardian. In these circumstances, many attorneys will recommend the creation of a living trust.
Under a living trust, you can transfer your property and other assets to a trustee. The trustee can then manage your assets and distribute a regular income to you for the rest of your life. A living trust can also avoid the need to appoint a guardian of your estate if you should become disabled.
If you change your mind and decide to add or eliminate a beneficiary, then you can make a simple amendment to your trust. You can usually do this through a written letter or memo signed and dated by you and delivered to your trustee.
Also, you may want to consider a trust for the benefit of non-immediate family members, such as grandchildren or disabled relatives. A trust can provide a mechanism for making distributions to these beneficiaries without having to go through the probate process.
Our Attorneys Offer Advice on Important Estate Planning Strategies for Women
As a woman, there are many important details to consider when planning your estate. Our attorneys have experience helping women plan for the future. We offer a variety of estate planning strategies for women. Contact Wiegand Attorneys & Counselors, LLC today at (303) 747-6791 to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Denver and Breckenridge and look forward to meeting with you soon.