Technically, women already have an estate plan. In fact, every woman in every single state in the United States has one. The government has given you one based on what THEY think and want to have happen to you and your property. The best way to answer this question is with another question: do you want an estate plan that YOU CHOOSE or do you want the government’s estate plan? I think the answer to this better question is for you to speak your own truth and get what you want.
That’s why women need a will. Women need to make their own choices in how their money, personal property, their real property is shared with their family, friends or charities when they pass away. Women need to make their own choices on who is in charge of the process of making these distributions after they pass away. Women need to make their own choices on whether they are buried or cremated after they pass away. Women need to make their own choices about whether health care treatment is withdrawn at the end of their lives so they can die on their terms with dignity and the respect they deserve. Women need to make their own choices about who will help them with the management of their money in the bank account, investments, real estate, etc. if they cannot manage these on their own because they lack the capacity. Women need to make their own choices about who will help them with their health care decisions if they need help. Women need to make their own decisions about who has access to private health care information.
These are many of the decisions that the government has already made for women. Its called passing away intestate. But women can change these estate plans. Women can NOT rely on what the government wants to have happen, who the government thinks should be in charge. Women can have a will, a power of attorney for finances, an advance directive for health care, a HIPAA release. Women can have an estate plan where they make these decisions and more.
So when we say we think women need a will, we say it with not just professional expertise, but personal. We are women. We want our voices heard.
So what documents are included in an estate plan for women?
Last Will & Testament is a document that will decide who is in charge of the process of gathering up what is yours and what you own when you die, then pays the people you owe money to (your creditors) and then distributes out to those people you want your things, your money and your property to go to at your passing. It is only in effect after you pass away.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney is a document that only works while you are alive. This document allows you to name someone to help you with your finances. You get to decide if you want that person to help you right away or only if you cannot help yourself because two doctors have decided you are incapacitated (medical opinions). This is someone who will potentially have access to your bank accounts, retirement accounts, utility bills, health bills, health insurance, real estate, etc.
Advance Directive for Health Care is a document that for the most part works only while you are alive and maybe a little time after you pass away. This document allows you to name the person you want making health care decisions for you if you cannot. You also get to give this person guidance on what YOU want if the medical doctors say that you will not live much longer because there is no other medical treatments available. Do you want to stay on a respirator if this is the case? Do you want your heart restarted if end of life is near? You get to choose what guidance you provide your chosen person.
Nomination of Guardianship is a document where if you have minor children or children who have special needs and will never live independently, you get to nominate people to care for your children if you cannot due to death or serious incapacity. Otherwise, a judge will ultimately decide that based on the information they have and a preference in the law. This document allows you to say “Hey judge, this is who I want and here is why.”
So relying on the government’s version of an estate plan is just avoiding these important decisions. It is just allowing the government to have a say in EVERYTHING and you allowing it to happen because you chose not to have an estate plan. Not to have a will.
This is why women need a will.