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Important considerations for the creation of an estate plan

Women who are creating estate plans face concerns that their male counterparts may not face. For instance, women often live longer than men and may be pressured by their children and grandchildren regarding their estate plans after the deaths of their husbands. There are 10 key aspects of creating an estate plan that Maryland women may want to consider.

First, if women have no plans in place for their estates after their deaths, they are planning to fail because their assets could be divided between their surviving family members, potentially preventing their spouses from having enough money to live on for the rest of their lives. When women enter second or third marriages, they should consider prenuptial agreements to protect their assets for their children from their previous marriages. Prenuptial agreements can assign certain assets to spouses in case of divorce or death.

Women should itemize their assets and list to whom each and every piece of personal property will go. This will allow survivors to know exactly who gets which item, preventing family squabbles in the future. Trusts should also be included in the plan, so when surviving spouses remarry or children divorce, they are protected. 

Women should choose fiduciaries carefully because these are going to be the people who care for their assets and their children and make their end-of-life health care decisions. They should also pay careful attention to whom they designate as beneficiaries on insurance policies and retirement plans. Women should also review their titles for properties, as well as determine whether liquidating their estates before their deaths is in their interest. If they own businesses, they should take care to protect their businesses from unnecessary risks and future liabilities. They should also consider the income tax ramifications that will be placed on family members upon their deaths.

Maryland women who are considering putting estate plans in place may wish to speak to an estate planning attorney who can guide them through the process. However, once an estate plan is in place, it is important to remember that one may need to make modifications in the future. It is important for all women to re-examine their estate plans every few years to ensure that they are still relevant.

Source: bizjournals.com, "10 key strategies for women doing estate planning", Lisa Schneider, June 12, 2015

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