Why estate planning is essential for women

woman desk

The equality of the sexes is a given nowadays. While it wasn't so long ago that more paternalistic attitudes prevailed, it's largely accepted now that women can do anything that men can do, from competing in professional sports to running a business.

One area where such equality doesn't operate, however, is in the realm of estate planning. Unfortunately, estate planning tends to disproportionately impact women for a variety of reasons.

The chief issue is that women consistently outlive men. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, for those born in the period 2010-12, the average female life expectancy is tipped at around 84 years, while males are expected to live approximately 80 years - a whole four-year difference.

This is reflected in the statistics regarding marriage status and widowers from the 2011 Census.

  • 26 per cent of older people (defined as those over 65) were widowed.
  • only 46 per cent of older women were married, compared to 71 per cent of men.
  • nearly 40 per cent of older women were widowed; by contrast, only 11 per cent of men were widowed.

In fact, the Census results showed that, while men's marriage rate was relatively stable up to around age 80, the older a woman got, the lower her chances of having a living spouse.

What does this mean?

This not only makes sorting out a well-planned retirement strategy important, but also makes getting your will and estate organise a top priority.

If the worst happens and your husband passes, it's essential to get your will updated to reflect this change. But even before that point, having a frank discussion with your partner about your collective finances should be on the cards.

If he does pass before you, you'll need to know that you'll still be on solid ground, financially. Is there enough in the will to cover your daily life? Not only that, but given how impactful the event of his passing could be for you, you should take a hand in the choosing of an executor or trustee.