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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Elder Law Planning for Women

What are some unique considerations of elder law planning for women?


Elder law involves planning for the wide range of issues that could impact aging Americans, such as the high costs of health care, retirement, guardianship, and much more. Whereas estate planning focuses on what will happen when you die, elder law addresses what happens if you live.  While elder law planning is critical for everyone, there are some issues unique to women.  Data published by researchers at the University of Montreal shows that women in America today live on average 80.1 years, whereas men live on average to 73.4 years of age.  This discrepancy is even greater in some other countries, like Russia.  Due to their tendency to live longer, it is critically important that women have a thorough elder law plan in place to protect themselves in their golden years.

  

Married Women Should Anticipate Outliving their Husbands 


Due to the tendency of women to outlive men, heterosexual married women should plan to outlive their husbands.  This means anticipating disability or the eventual death of their spouse.  Women will want to know that should their husband die, they are prepared to take over the family’s finances.  Further, a family’s elder law planning should always take into account the possibility that one spouse will become disabled and need either a full time caregiver or nursing home care.  Without a health care plan in place to meet the disabled spouse’s medical needs, expenses like these could bankrupt a family. 

 

Caregiver Agreements 


Women are more likely to become caregivers for their aging parents or disabled spouse than men. Caregiver Agreements allow caregivers to be compensated for the services they provide, which could include basic care and housing.  Women who end up a caregiver should consider drafting a caregiver agreement so that they are compensated for their services.


Medicaid Planning 


When a couple applies for Medicaid for one spouse, the house and other assets will be protected. However, if the husband has passed away and the wife later needs to enter a nursing home, only half the house will typically be protected. Women can prevent the loss of their assets by creating a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT).  Assets placed within this trust at least five years before the trust is created will be protected.  Contact an elder law attorney for assistance addressing the unique needs of both men and women as they age.



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