The Women's Journal

Women & Estate Planning Basics

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Frederick_Dawson_on11_sqBy Frederick J. Dawson, ChFC, CLU

When it comes to estate planning, women have unique concerns. The fact is that women live an average of 4.8 years longer than men.*

What is an estate plan?

An estate plan is a map that reflects the way you want your personal and financial affairs to be handled in case of your incapacity or death.

Planning for incapacity

Incapacity can happen to anyone at any time. Health-care directives can help others make sound decisions about your health when you are unable to.These might include:

Living will

  • Durable power of attorney for health care (health-care proxy)
  • Do not resuscitate (DNR) order
  • Joint ownership
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Living trust

Wills and probate

A will is quite often the cornerstone of an estate plan. It is a legal document that directs how your property is to be distributed when you die.  You can also create a trust in your will.  Most wills have to be probated. The will is filed with the probate court. The executor collects assets, pays debts and taxes owed, and distributes any remaining property to the rightful heirs.

What happens if you die without a will or an estate plan?

Whether or not you have a will, some property passes automatically to a joint owner or to a designated beneficiary.

Trust basics

A trust is a versatile estate planning tool that can protect against incapacity; avoid probate; minimize taxes; allow professional management of assets; provide safeguards for minor children, elderly parents, and other beneficiaries; and protect assets from future creditors. Most importantly, trusts can provide a means to administer property on an ongoing basis according to your wishes, even after your death. You can create a trust while you are alive (a living or inter vivos trust) or at your death (a testamentary trust).

Transfer taxes

When you dispose of your property during your lifetime or at your death, your transfers may be subject to federal gift tax, federal estate tax, and federal generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax. Your transfers may also be subject to state taxes.

Lifetime giving

Making gifts during one’s life is a common estate planning strategy that can serve to avoid probate and minimize transfer taxes. One way to do this is to take advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion, which lets you give up to $14,000 (in 2014 and 2015) to as many individuals as you want to gift tax free.


Fred Dawson, ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant), CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) has over 40 years of comprehensive wealth management experience. He is the President of Dawson Wealth Management and a founding principal partner of the organization. Successful women are prominent among Fred’s diverse domestic and international client base of professionals, retirees, professional musicians and business owners.

* Some Content Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2014.

* NCHS Data Brief, No. 168, October 2014

Frederick J. Dawson, ChFC®, CLU®      Wealth Manager

Dawson Wealth Management LLC  

E.A. Delle Donne Corporate Center 

1013 Centre Road – Suite 228, Wilmington, DE 19805 


[email protected]