Who wears the jeans?

May 01, 2018

Who wears the jeans in the family? This traditionally resulted in a resounding answer of “the man”, especially when referring to finances. Historically, women tended to remain removed from the family finances and we have seen the detrimental consequences of that. Although times have changed, several mistakes are still being made and the penalties still unequally affecting women.

The biggest long-term financial mistakes are with estate planning and gender plays a role in this. Talk to any actuary and you will be told that women live longer than men. Thanks to advances in medicine and greater awareness around healthy living, the average life expectancy for a Canadian born in 2013 is 82 years, up from 77 in 1990 and 69 in 1951, according to a report from Canada’s Office of the Chief Actuary. Women, on average, live 4.9 years longer than this, and longer life expectancy rate means that women have additional planning concerns to consider. Combine this with the statistic that they tend to choose partners who are older, which means they are likely to become widowed and live on their own for a number of years longer. This may not seem like a big difference, but without proper planning, it has resulted in severe financial distress for many.

Estate planning is different for women and men, not only due to longevity but also because of the psychologically different way that women approach it. Women, in general, spend all their time taking care of everybody else and in the process, forgetting those flight-attendant instructions that tell us to put the mask over own own faces first. They are also more concerned with intangibles such as, security, freedom, independence, and the welfare of their children and family. Whereas men tend to be more focused on tangibles, such as attaining a certain goal and are results-oriented.

People often procrastinate until a life-changing event forces a course correction. This is, as the saying goes, “putting the cart before the horse”. The prospect of estate planning can be overwhelming but the first hurdle is simply to taking the first step, before a crisis happens. No matter what your age or how much money you should have, here are some important planning tips to keep in mind for women:

  • Protect your financial assets. Make sure your insurance coverage can support your financial needs in case your spouse passes away before you do. Also, consider purchasing insurance on your life to cover any final expenses or estate taxes that might be due at death.
  • Plan for your financial assets. Essentially, estate planning is a process that allows individuals to create documents reflecting how they want their personal and financial assets to be distributed at their death.
  • Financial power of attorney. Who will make money decisions if you can’t?
  • Living will. What are your health care wishes if you become incapacitated? Who can help ensure those wishes are fulfilled?
  • Will. Do you want to leave a legacy and provide for those closest and dearest to you? Are there any charitable organizations you want to receive your possessions?
  • Choose the right investments. Be aware of the actuarial reality that women live longer than men. How does this affect your investment style and risk?
  • Beneficiary designations. Make sure the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and life-insurance policies are up-to-date and in-sync with your will. Have any of your children divorced? Does this affect your beneficiaries?
  • Caring for Parents. As our parents get older, women tend to assume the task of caring for elderly parents, or other disabled family members. Include plans and assets for taking care of loved ones that have fallen under her responsibility.
  • They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but is this true when it comes to estate planning? Absolutely. Women often find themselves in such different circumstances than men. It is even more imperative for them to educate themselves about estate planning. As women, it’s crucial that you take an active role in managing your finances, protecting our assets, and having a clear plan for distributing those assets in the future.

    Pamela Coquet
    Financial Strategist at Savanti Wealth

    Want some more information? Send us an email or give us a call and we can help you at info@savanti.ca or (403)968-8443



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