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Women outlive men, but are they as careful with estate planning?

It is a mixed blessing, really, that women tend to live longer than men. On one hand, the extra years -- about six, according to researchers -- give women more time to spend with family and friends, a couple more elections to vote in and a few more Chester County's Fourth of July celebrations to enjoy.

On the other hand, though, women may have six more years of medical expense to bear, or they may have six years of living without their husbands and their husbands' retirement benefits. There are as many risks as there are opportunities, it seems.

The U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth survey this year found that 52 percent of women had assets equaling or exceeding their partners' assets when entering into marriage or another relationship. Women are moving men out of the role of "breadwinner," too: 33 percent of women report that they contribute half or more of their household income.

Women may control as much as $20 trillion in assets by 2020, and chances are good they will want to preserve some of those assets for the next generation or for charity. As their economic status improves, more and more women are taking advantage of an option that has always been open to them: estate planninWomen are not strangers to estate planning, but the process has traditionally been managed by the man of the house. Estate planning professionals suggest women who have not thought about wilsl or trusts or health care directives before keep a few things in mind when considering their options.

We were discussing those extra six years earlier, and that is why we are putting a durable power of attorney and long-term care insurance coverage at the top of this list. Women often find themselves nursing a husband or partner through a last illness only later to find that they have no one to help with their own final illness. The situation becomes more complicated if, like so many others, a couple shares their wishes with each other but not with anyone else.

So, if women are looking at outlasting their partners, they need to memorialize their wishes and protect their assets if there is a long last illness.

We'll continue this in our next post.

Source:, "6 estate planning tips for women," Tom Nawrocki, June 30, 2014

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