Women encounter longer life expectancies, caregiving obligations, or widowhood, and are more likely to have greater expenses and require long-term care. Estate planning becomes particularly important for women as it ensures that their assets are distributed as per their wishes and their loved ones are taken care of, allowing them to control and plan their financial goals efficiently.

An estate planning document comprises a list of assets including stock investments, real estate, PPF, or life insurance plans. To eliminate possible family feuds, the document takes care of the dispersion of assets, tax payments, and settlement of liabilities as listed by the concerned person. Women may also wish to designate a trustworthy person to handle their financial and medical needs in the event that they become incapacitated. Estate planning will help women become financially independent as they plan for these expenses and have a guaranteed strategy to pay for long-term care without straining loved ones.

Protecting young children

As primary caregivers, women tend to have distinct goals and concerns when it comes to the welfare of their children. They play a key role in raising children and are more sensitive to their needs. A mother can prioritise her children’s future and make sure they are financially secure, in the case of her untimely passing, by establishing an estate plan. For single or widowed mothers in particular, this would include naming a guardian for their children in a will. Through estate planning, women can eliminate the potential of an inappropriate person ending up as the carer for their children.

Ensuring your wishes are respected

Having an estate plan is essential for women to protect their wealth and possessions and ensure that they are given to the rightful heirs in accordance with their wishes. If the heirs are not decided, there won’t be any control over who gets to benefit from the assets. This is crucial in India, where succession laws continue to remain skewed in favour of men. It is likely that a deceased woman’s money could be possibly directed to her estranged husband’s family instead of the ones she would have preferred to, in the absence of a will. This emphasises the need for women to create an estate plan, regardless of their marital status, to ensure that their assets are allocated in the manner they desire and to the appropriate beneficiaries.

Minimising taxes and expenses

Estate planning can also help in minimising taxes on assets and expenses associated with their distribution after an individual’s death. For example, setting up a trust can help decrease the taxes on your assets, ensuring more of it is passed on to the inheritor. Beneficiaries of a trust may receive the assets without having to go through probate, which is the legal procedure for confirming a will and allocating assets in accordance with its instructions. Avoiding probate allows the transfer of assets more swiftly and results in reduced expenses as well. The use of a trust may also help prevent any inconveniences in terms of finances to surviving spouses or children while waiting for the grant of probate

A step towards financial inclusion

Getting involved in estate planning helps women better comprehend their family’s money, assets, and investments. It also encourages women to be financially aware and reiterates their position in a family as a major stakeholder. This ensures that women can assume decision-making roles and take on significant responsibilities in the event of the sudden passing of a family member and the absence of a designated heir. It also serves to promote equal participation of men and women in family matters.

Facing numerous singular circumstances and duties, estate planning is essential for women who want to control their financial futures and ensure that their final wishes are carried out. A well-thought-out plan can make sure one’s children are financially supported and assets are transferred in accordance with their preferences. Working with a knowledgeable financial advisor, women can develop a thorough plan that takes into account their unique requirements and cushions their loved ones in case of any impact from unexpected conditions. Women who take the time to prepare their estates can safeguard themselves, their families, and the legacy they leave behind.

The author is director and chief operating officer, Entrust Family Office


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