Estate planning is always a highly personal venture. Individuals have a unique set of needs when it comes to creating a comprehensive estate plan, and no two outcomes are ever exactly alike. That said, women often have a different set of needs than men, and trusts can play an important role in the estate planning approach of many Pennsylvania women.
Statistics tell us that women tend to live longer than men. This means that many women will be widowed in their later years. The high divorce rate suggests that many women will also have children from more than one marriage, and perhaps a number of stepchildren as well. Creating an estate plan that allows for the desired distribution of assets to those family members is important.
Trusts are a good fit in this regard because they provide a level of protection for the intended heirs. The assets that are used to fund a trust are no longer the property of the individual who created the trust. They are also not the property of the individuals who are named as beneficiaries of the trust. The assets are owned by the trust itself.
This means that beneficiaries are shielded from losses that can come from life events such as divorce, bankruptcy or legal judgments. The assets that are held within a trust cannot be seized through any of those actions. Assets can be set up for distribution at a certain age or when a certain requirement has been met, such as the completion of a college degree or the purchase of a home. Beneficiaries can also be given periodic payments from the proceeds of the trust, while the bulk of assets remain protected.
For women who are concerned about how to best provide for the eventual distribution of assets, it may be a good idea to meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss the available options. Trusts may form the center of those discussions and can provide an excellent fit for many Pennsylvania women. That said, each set of circumstances is unique, and the best solution will vary from one woman to another.
Source: bizjournals.com, "10 key strategies for women doing estate planning", Lisa Schneider, June 12, 2015