While both men and women usually have similar goals that they share with an estate planning attorney, there are some unique challenges that women may experience as they age. These concerns usually revolve around long-term care, financial well-being, health, and housing.
These concerns are magnified for women because they tend to live longer and are often the caregivers. This leaves them in the position of needing to care for themselves or turn to other family members later in life.
Let’s examine how women can make their later years golden instead of worrisome by taking a few key estate planning steps with their asset protection attorney Los Angeles.
Why Women Need to Think About Estate Planning
According to the World Health Organization, women tend to live longer than men—usually by about six to eight years. Unfortunately, the organization also points out that these extra years of life are not always lived in the best of health.
To protect their assets and lifestyle, women need to prepare for their elder years. Because we don’t know what the future will bring, it’s essential to take care of these documents before an emergency arrives. Preparing an estate plan under the weight of sudden death, divorce, or health issue can be overwhelming at best and impossible at worst.
An estimated 66% of caregivers are women. Many of these women are caring for aging parents or other relatives. Others are caring for their grandchildren because of parents that are unavailable, for one reason or another.
In the first case, it’s vital to set up an estate plan that can provide for continuity of care should something happen to the caregiver. In the latter case, a successor guardian should be designated, and a trust set up so that the grandchildren can continue receiving financial, emotional, and physical care should something happen to the grandparent.
Another consideration is long-term care and the effects of caregiving. For example, should a parent pay a child acting as a caretaker, their long-term care and eligibility for Medi-Cal may be at risk.
More than 75% of residents in assisted living facilities and 70% of nursing home residents are women. Planning ahead and speaking with an estate planning attorney Los Angeles about long-term care can save thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, the average monthly cost for a room in an assisted living facility is $4,500 a month, and the average price for a room in a nursing facility is $8.800. California rates are among the highest in the nation, with an average monthly charge at nursing homes coming in at $11,437.
Fortunately, there are financial and estate planning tools available that can help protect a family’s assets. One of these is known as Medi-Cal planning and requires preparing an estate plan before needing long-term care.
If done correctly, the process can qualify for Medi-Cal, reduce the share of cost, and protect assets from Medi-Cal recovery. Speak with an asset protection attorney in Los Angeles to learn about the many intricate details involved in long-term care asset protection.
Suppose a woman was being cared for by a family member before needing assisted living services, and she paid them for caregiving. In that case, Medi-Cal may consider that a gift which may negate her chances to receive Medi-Cal. Instead, an elder law attorney could have drafted a Caregiver’s Agreement.
As you can see, the key is to start planning early.
An advance directive is a legal document stating your wishes should you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. According to the National Institute on Aging, these directives or stated preferences are more likely to result in getting the care you prefer at the end of your life.
These advance directives are usually stated in a living will and incorporate your wishes regarding the use of emergency treatments to sustain life, such as a ventilator, tube feeding, CPR, and artificial hydration, and under what conditions. Comfort care involves relieving suffering through the use of pain medication and other procedures.
Of course, your directives on how to handle these situations often change as you age, making it incredibly important to review these types of documents every few years.
Should you become incapacitated, a durable power of attorney names a representative that can legally make these types of decisions for you when you are unable to.
Preservation & Transfer of Assets
Many women outlive their husbands. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 12% of men over the age of 64 are widowed. For women, this number rises to 34%. Once a woman reaches 85, 72% find themselves living as a widow.
Additionally, almost half of all women over the age of 74 live alone, and one in nine of these women need assistance with daily activities.
These numbers make it clear that women need to start planning early. Talk with your spouse or family members and start preparing with the idea that a long life awaits you.
Historically, women have had less control or involvement with financial matters. And yet, as the numbers show, many women will find themselves in control of the ultimate disposition of wealth and family assets.
Find someone you can turn to and trust regarding financial and estate planning. It’s best to have built this relationship and created an estate plan before the need strikes unexpectedly.
Start Your Estate Planning Journey Today
As a living trust attorney Orange County, McKenzie Legal & Financial can help you develop an estate plan that covers your needs as well as your families well into your golden years.
Because Thomas McKenzie, founder, is a registered financial consultant and a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, he and his firm are uniquely prepared to assist you in all of your financial, investment, and legal advice. Call us for a complimentary consultation at McKenzie Legal & Financial today.