Although proper estate planning is important for everyone, it often more directly affects women thanks to three key reasons:
Women statistically live longer than men;
Women are more likely to take time away from careers to raise children and can often face financial challenges as a result; and
Women are predominantly named the custodial parent of minor children.
The fact that women tend to live longer than men means it's often women who are faced with the task of estate administration and planning. And while that might sound a little daunting, brushing up on the basics can help you walk into the future with confidence.
General Estate Planning
Although Arkansas laws outline the method for distributing property when an individual dies without a proper will, in many cases, these rules do not distribute property in the way most people would expect. If an individual dies without a will and is married, most property held solely in that individual’s name, including a home, would pass to that individual’s children instead of to that individual’s spouse.
This can be particularly problematic if the decedent is survived by minor children. Because minor children cannot control property in Arkansas, the surviving parent would be forced to seek a guardianship of the estate of his or her children in order to control the home. This example of unexpected asset distribution can be avoided with, you guessed it, proper planning.
Special Needs Planning
Proper estate planning is vital when planning for the future of a loved one with special needs. Effective planning helps legally protect assets for a loved one with special needs so as to retain or obtain eligibility for essential benefits such as Medicaid. In addition to maintaining eligibility for certain programs, estate planning permits an individual to express their desires for the future care of a loved one.
Business Succession Planning
Business succession planning is of vital importance to closely held business owners when structuring an estate plan. This portion of the estate planning process permits a business owner to plan for the future management and control of a business when the individual is no longer capable of managing the day-to-day affairs. The goal of business succession planning is to create a more seamless transition for all parties involved.
There are many ways to establish an effective estate plan, and each plan should reflect the wishes and specific circumstances of an individual, so take time to consider what those are for you and your family.
Then take a deep breath and set up a meeting with your attorney. They'll help you turn a difficult topic into a real conversation about how to accomplish your unique goals both now and in the years to come.
Attorneys Kayleigh Dulaney and Kirby Miraglia both practice at Wright Lindsey Jennings in Little Rock where they specialize in estate planning for individuals and business succession planning for organizations.