Women & Money: Strategies for Age 35 – A Case Study

When Sam and Sue first approached me for advice on estate planning, they were college educated 35 year olds with two small children. They had decided Sue would be an “at home Mom” while the children were young. Sam had a solid salary – $70,000 a year and rising.

Their most important goal, at this stage, was to name guardians for their children, but they were having problems deciding who would be the best choice. Sam’s brother, Christopher, was level headed, shared their religious background and income level, and had children around the age of theirs, but Christopher’s marriage was on shaky ground and Sam and Sue did not want their children to be involved in the fallout of a divorce.

Sue’s sister, Margaret and her husband, Tom, on the other hand, lived nearby and had a strong marriage, but a smaller house than Sam and Sue and a smaller income. Sam and Sue feared adding their children to Margaret’s household would be too much of a burden.

As we talked, I explained that this is the choice that is the most difficult for young parents to make, and it is important to realize the decision is not written in stone. It can be changed at any subsequent point by a one paragraph amendment.

I also asked them to consider another dimension: Whether they wanted to name a person or a couple as guardian. If, for example, they named Christopher alone and he did get divorced, then his wife would have no legal standing in raising Sam’s and Sue’s children. But if they named Christopher alone, and he stayed married, and his wife assisted in raising their children but did not have the legal authority to make decisions, she might very well become resentful. This could put additional pressure both on their marriage and on her feelings for Sam’s and Sue’s children.

In addition to the guardian decision, I urged them to make some financial provisions – buying life insurance, for example, so that if something happened to them their children would be well provided for. I also pointed out that they could name Margaret and Tom guardians for their children and assure that Margaret and Tom had the resources to do so by making provisions in their wills and trusts that would allow the funds to be used both for their own children and for the guardian’s children.

We looked at life insurance policies as a means of providing for the family in the event of either Sam’s death or Sue’s. How much would be needed? Enough to pay off the home mortgage, and to replace Sam’s salary if he predeceased Sue and enough to pay for child care if Sue predeceased Sam. (The Social Security Administration does pay a monthly stipend to minor children of a deceased parent who has paid into the system but it is not enough to support that child in full.)

Estate planning goes hand in hand with financial planning, and a coordinated plan should cover lifetime expenses as well.

Patricia Annino

is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently announced the release of an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime. Annino’s book is an exhortation, resource and trusted companion for women in all facets of life. To purchase the book visit:

http://amzn.to/hOHuEV or for more about Annino, visit: HYPERLINK “http://www.patriciaannino.com/”HYPERLINK “http://www.patriciaannino.com/”www.patriciaannino.com


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