Checklist for Today's Woman
Today’s Woman now creates and controls more assets than ever before. Who is Today’s Woman? She is you: a mother, a career woman, grandmother, married, single, divorced, or a combination of these attributes. Whatever your circumstances, you have unique estate planning needs.
For example, a single, career-oriented woman may not have “obvious heirs.” Special care should be taken to make sure your assets go where you want them to go at your death. If you want to remember a favorite charity, childhood friend, or significant other, you need a will. On the other hand, a mother with three young children may plan for her assets to be distributed first to her husband, and then eventually to her children. As a mother, you would want to name a guardian to raise your children if a disaster befell you and your husband. You would also want to set up a trust for your children until they have reached maturity.
In today’s economic climate, corporate downsizing, early retirement, and career changes are commonplace. Many women have shunned the traditional employee-employer relationship and they have become entrepreneurs. As a small business owner, your estate planning concerns may range from providing an income for your family to the continuation or sale of your business.
Your will disposes of your property at your death. Your will reflects your personality and present circumstances. You may leave gifts to family members, charities, or even a special friend. You may have a pet that has been your companion for many years. Your will should include arrangements to provide for the care and comfort of your pet(s). Remember, if something is worth accumulating during your lifetime, then you should plan for its disposition at your death.
If you don’t have a will, the state of North Carolina, in effect, writes one for you according to its intestate law. The intestate law won’t leave your valuable items to special friends. The law may not even pass all your property to your husband. The painting or jewelry from your great grandmother that you’ve treasured for so many years may be sold at an estate sale or given to a distant or ungrateful relative. The intestate laws will not provide for a non-spouse partner; the only way to provide for a “significant other” is by a bequest in your will or through another estate planning document.
Maybe you already have a will, but how old is it? As Today’s Woman, you will experience many “life-changing” events: marriage, children, divorce, death, and elder care. Therefore, it is important to review your will periodically and update it as your life changes.
You’ve worked hard to accumulate your assets, build your business, and get to where you are today. Take control and make sure your assets go where you want them to go at your death.
The information contained in this column is of a general nature and does not constitute legal advice.