Women experience unique economic realities. They tend to live longer and move in and out of the workplace due to career interruptions for childbirth and elder parent care. This means women often qualify for much lower pension benefits and receive lower Social Security benefits due to their years employed and salaries attained.  These cannot be increased by the husband’s pension or social security if he experiences an untimely death.

Fewer years in the workforce, fewer years with a single employer, and lower pay are all factors, which may contribute to a lower average pension for females. Moreover, women often have diminished retirement savings due to the health care costs for the spouse.  Women most often become the caretaker for their husbands.  This reaps financial benefits by delaying the significant expense of nursing home care. The average nursing home cost in North Carolina is approximately $5,500.00 per month.  The question is, who will be there when the widowed wife needs assistance?

Women must work with their husbands to implement a plan to ensure the total health care and estate planning needs of their family is addressed. There are certain documents that are regarded as necessities for life in today’s active, uncertain society. They are listed below:

Durable Power of Attorney. This document establishes who will make your financial decisions in the event of your incapacity.

Health Care Proxy. This document ensures medical decisions are carried out in accordance with your intentions in the event you become mentally or physically disabled.

Wills and Trusts. These documents provide for an orderly distribution of your assets and ensure your future needs will be met.

However, the above documents are just the start of the estate planning spectrum. It is also important to consider Medicare and Medicaid planning and the interplay between long-term care and financial planning. Be Educated! Be Proactive!