In our previous post, we began looking at a recent Forbes article in which Deborah Jacobs points out the need for women to become more competent about and to get more involved in the estate planning process. We left off discussing how women can become facilitators in estate planning by engaging their family in the conversation, particularly in regard to their spouse and their adult children.
Although there will often be some degree of tension in discussing inheritance and other estate planning matters with children, explaining how certain decision were made can help make the process a bit easier with adult children. One helpful tip is to meet privately with each child and explain estate plans instead of making group announcements. Asking for input can be a way of giving them some feedback and participation in the process.
A third area where women can become more involved in the estate planning process is to engage their parents in the discussion of their own estate plan. Doing so can save a lot of headaches down the road when the parent(s) pass on. Of course, such planning really should be done early, so as to avoid problems with incompetence and lack of legal capacity.
Women engaging a parent or parents in the conversation of their own estate plan should be mindful of undue influence or lack of capacity for signing onto any estate planning documents. Attorneys will be careful to ensure that an elderly individual is voluntarily consenting to any estate planning matter.
The bottom line is that women can be an important asset in engaging the whole family in the estate planning process. In an area that tends to be dominated by men, women can bring a lot to the table. Not only will greater involvement of women allow them to better protect themselves and their families, it will enhance the process itself.
Source: Forbes, "Nice Girls Talk About Estate Planning," Deborah Jacobs, August 9, 2011.