Estate Planning for Women

Many women who are smart financial managers of their personal income or of their family’s income just plain ignore one crucial aspect of financial management – estate planning.  Estate planning for women really is different than estate planning for the rest of society.  Since life expectancies are longer for women, it is likely that a woman will outlive her spouse and be responsible for two estates.

There are many ways women can reduce or avoid any taxes owed and still accomplish their goals and objectives.  A charitable bequest – a direction in a will to give money or property – produces an estate tax charitable deduction that benefits both the estate and charity.  Through a charitable bequest you can gain the personal satisfaction of knowing part of your estate will benefit your favorite charity’s programs and also achieve important tax savings.  In fact, a deferred bequest to your favorite charity can actually increase the income available to your other beneficiaries.

Good estate planning means, at a minimum:

  • making certain that your property will be distributed according to your wishes, by means of an effective will;
  • protecting your estate against depletion brought on by the federal estate tax, state inheritance and estate taxes, income taxes, expenses of estate administration, lack of estate liquidity and other causes;
  • taking steps to protect beneficiaries who are either minor children or an aged or disabled family member and to make your wishes known on practical matters such as funeral and burial preferences.

Your thoughtful, up-to-date will should be the cornerstone of your total estate plan.  It gives form and substance to your concern for the future of your family, worthwhile organizations and other beneficiaries.

A trust, created during life or in your will, may figure prominently in your estate plan.  Through a trust you can provide income for your family, transfer investment worries to a trustee of your own choosing and perhaps even save on estate taxes and estate administration costs.

A living will and a durable power of attorney for health care should be part of your total estate plan.  These legal documents provide your doctors and family members with guidance in making health care decisions if you are incapacitated.

Some Findings about Giving by Women

  • Women are more likely to give than their male counterparts across generations and women are more likely to make charitable bequests than men.1
  • The typical one-life charitable gift annuity recipient is a female in her late 70s or 80s.  Women make up 57% of all gift annuity recipients.2
  • 17.1% of women, compared with 10.2% of men, want to learn more about integrating their values and charitable goals.3
  • Married couples tend to give more than single male- or female-headed households and the majority of married couples decide on charitable giving jointly.4


1Where Do Men and Women Give? Gender Difference in the Motivations and Purposes for Charitable Giving, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, published in September 2015
22013 survey by the American Council on Gift Annuities
32014 U.S. Trust Study of High-Net Worth Philanthropy
4How and Why Women Give: Current and Future Directions for Research on Women’s Philanthropy, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, published in May 2015