By Norman A. Pappas
March 1, 2007
Statistically speaking women outlive men, which means wives are often left to deal with all of the issues associated with transferring wealth. What then are the key issues that need to be addressed? There are 10 steps that the woman, as the likely surviving spouse, should help orchestrate:
1. Compile and update a list of all assets, including real estate, savings, stocks, bonds, 401K plans, IRAs, personal effects, collectibles and insurance policies.
3. Coordinate how assets are titled to avoid probate and achieve tax savings.
4. Determine how much income will be necessary for the surviving spouse and children to maintain their standard of living and satisfy other financial goals, such as college education and payment of debt.
5. Make sure long-term disability and health care needs are met. Insurance policies can provide relief from an otherwise severe strain on assets.
6. Plan ahead to determine what estate and income taxes will be payable at death.
7. Make sure adequate insurance is available to pay debts and estate taxes, provide income for the family, and when necessary, provide key man protection to run a business.
9. Take steps to retain key employees who can help run the business, or be there to assist in an orderly sale of the business.
10. Understand the nature of your invested assets, such as stocks and bonds, and the tax implications of changing the asset mix to meet the liquidity needs of an untimely death.
None of these things have to happen. But people tend to focus on the urgent brush fires of daily life and miss the forest fire that can destroy their lives’ goals because of inadequate planning. As with any important life decision, you may need professional advisors to help with your personal estate planning roadmap.