Over the last 18 months, working women have faced job losses, salary cuts, or been forced to leave the workforce. It’s taken a toll. 89% of estate planners said their female clients had been negatively affected by at least one of these factors, according to a survey done by TD Wealth. As a result, 87% of planners made changes to their female clients’ estate plans to reflect their new financial situation.
Let’s take a deeper look at why these changes are being made. “The lack of child care during the pandemic made it difficult for women to work in the same pre-pandemic manner, especially for women in professions that do not permit working from home or cannot be performed from home. Changes in financial circumstances routinely create a need to change an estate plan,” explains Kalimah White, Vice President and Wealth Strategist at TD Wealth.
Additionally, women have taken the time to really reevaluate their relationships in the last year+. “The pandemic changed many people’s mindset as the slow-down in the world has given many the ability to reflect on their lives and provide perspective,” White says. This led to changes in guardianship for their minor children, beneficiary designations, or powers of attorney. This shows women were re-thinking who they trust to control their estates. “It is very possible that the shift occurred long ago, but many women are realizing that they must take action now to revise their estate plan as the pandemic has brought mortality to the forefront.”
Many are worried about healthcare costs — prolonged life expectancy makes this a reality for women everywhere. While healthcare costs are always a concern, the pandemic shifted thinking, forcing many women to think about healthcare costs prior to a medical emergency, explains white.
Are you wondering whether it is appropriate for you to adjust your current estate planning? Now may be the time, as our individual financial realities are always evolving. Plenty of life events call for a change to your estate plan — having kids, taking care of elderly parents, divorce, retirement, starting a business and more. If your priorities have shifted, it might be time for a shift in the estate and financial plans you have in place right now.
You should make changes when your circumstances change — whether in life or in tax policy, says White. A routine review of your estate plan to make sure it complies with your current lifestyle and circumstance is necessary. “For instance, you may have an estate plan that includes life insurance with an ex-spouse as beneficiary, which most certainly will be upsetting and potentially financially devastating to a current spouse at your death,” explains White.
Be aware that conflict may arise as you make changes to your estate plan. According to TD Wealth’s 2021 Estate Planning Survey, 34% of estate planners noted that family conflict is commonly caused by lack of communication with family members — especially in blended families. The best thing you can do to avoid this is to openly share your plans with your trusted family members, White says. This decreases confusion and family fights after you pass.
Once you make the decision to change your estate plans, you should work with a trusted advisor, like an attorney, CPA, or wealth advisor. “Estate, trust, and tax law is an ever-evolving area so it is important to get expert advice to ensure that your goals for you and your family are on track,” White says.
What You Need To Know
“Women should know that it is important to be directly involved in their financial future and the estate planning needs of their family — regardless if they have a trusted partner that handles these issues for their family,” White says. Women statistically survive longer than men, and 90% of women will be making the financial decisions in their lives at some point. It is crucial to review and revise your estate plans on an annual basis, whether or not you have a partner.
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