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What New York Women Need to Know About Estate Planning

In an article posted last summer, Forbes commented that women are more interested in losing weight than protecting their financial assets.

Ouch. Harsh words but are they true?

It’s hard to say, but it’s also fair to say that many people would agree with that statement. The important thing about that statement, especially if it’s true, is that women stand to gain a lot by educating themselves on estate planning.

And they stand to lose a lot by remaining in the dark.

According to the Forbes piece, forty-two percent of women over the age of sixty-five are widowed. Compare that to the fourteen percent of men at that age.

With a demographic trend of wives outliving their husbands, it becomes even more important for women to understand the estate planning tools and techniques used in their family plan.

For example, many revocable living trusts set up a survivor’s trust. What does that mean for the surviving spouse? How much will she get from the trust and what is she entitled to, on a regular basis?

It’s easy to think of estate planning in terms of a simple will, but women need to know some of the most basic underlying rules in estate planning.

We’ll cap this article off with a few quick tips on what New York women should know about estate planning.

Your husband can’t disinherit you that easily. New York has a law that allows a surviving spouse to claim an elective share of her deceased spouse’s estate.

You might be trustee of a living trust. If you and your husband had a joint revocable living trust, chances are that you were named successor trustee. You need to know what that means. Usually, the trust document should tell you what your roles and responsibilities are, but it’s always a good idea to check with an estate planning lawyer.

Some items passed to you without going through Surrogate’s Court. If you owned property jointly (joint ownership of a house, joint bank accounts), then those items passed directly to you without probate. You might need to check the title on those assets to see how you and your spouse held them.

Family estate planning is useless if only one spouse is in the loop. Women need to take charge of their finances and play an active role in family financial planning and estate planning.

There’s too much at stake.

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