An estate plan gives you the peace of mind of knowing that all personal and financial decisions will be taken care of as you have envisioned.

Estate planning for women: why you need it & how to go about it?

The pandemic has shown us how fragile life can be and has highlighted the need for a robust financial plan. In addition to having the financial resources available as and when you need them, you also need to have a plan for the future, a plan that can be put into motion before you’re gone.

This is where estate planning comes. A well thought out estate plan allows women to protect their interests as well as that of their family and assets.

What is estate planning?

Many people use estate planning interchangeably with a Will. However, estate planning encompasses a lot more aspects than just who will inherit what. It allows you to plan and take charge of every aspect of the resources you have worked so hard to build. So what does an estate plan include?

An estate planning document includes an updated list of your assets - from investments in stocks, bonds, PPF, real estate, life insurance plans, art and collectables, family heirlooms, etc.

It contains a living will that spells out how you should be taken care of and what medical treatment you want or do not want in case you are incapacitated due to health issues and cannot enunciate yourself.

It enlists an executioner, ideally an estate planning attorney, who will manage your affairs, name the legal guardians for children and their responsibilities if required, and ensure the rightful inheritance for all beneficiaries, including allocation towards charity and welfare causes.

The estate planning document also sets up the management and distribution of all your assets, settlement of liabilities, payment of estate taxes and other fees. It ensures the execution is fair and just without anyone having to take legal recourse and creating further delays and bad blood.

Related: All You Need To Know About Making A Will

Why is estate planning important for women?  

Women today are independent and active contributors to family wealth, and it is only right that they have the authority of deciding the financial future. Here are some reasons why women need to consider an estate plan.

  • Independence: Women tend to outlive men, which means they will need the resources to last longer to cover living expenses, lifestyle needs and long-term care. Having control of your money and assets gives you the freedom to live your sunset years the way you want without being dependant on others.
  • Custodianship: On account of the longevity, married women become the custodians of their spouse’s wealth too. In such a scenario, women not only need to make a broader call regarding assets, but they also need to think about the children's future (if they are young) in case something happens to them.
  • Family issues: In conventionally large Indian families, women who survive their spouse tend to face a lot of pressure from children and grandchildren regarding assets. Having an estate plan allows women to disengage from personal issues and delegate their assets as they deem fit.

Related: Estate Planning: 10 Things To Do Before You Die

When should you update your estate plan?

Estate planning should be an integral part of the overall financial plan for any woman. Women under the age of 50 should revisit their estate plan at least once every three to five years. However, changing personal and financial situations will necessitate immediate amendments to your estate plan.

  • Marriage or divorce: If your marital status changes, you may wish to remove or add your spouse to your estate. You may want to further make changes to insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc.
  • Health issues: If you or your spouse have been diagnosed with a cognitive or physical ailment, you would want to address critical decisions regarding the future. It would also bid well to include plans for long-term care costs and final arrangements.
  • Death of a loved one: Demise of a loved one such as a parent, spouse or even a beneficiary of your Will may require you to update your estate with assets or remove beneficiaries.

Related: Rights To Ancestral Property: What Every Indian Woman Must Know

Consider bringing on an estate planning attorney who will assist not only with the right estate planning guidance but shall also address the taxation and legal aspects. An estate plan gives you the peace of mind of knowing that all personal and financial decisions will be taken care of as you have envisioned.