WealthcareEstate Planning
Women and Estate Planning 
  One of the most important and most difficult tasks women face today is how to protect their family's wealth when it is distributed to their heirs.
   Women, in most cases, will live longer than men, and these women will be forced to manage assets on their own in later years. And with federal estate-tax rates as high as 55+%, their assets, in many cases their family's wealth, can be greatly reduced when either out of fear or ignorance they fail to plan for this tax. For this reason, if no other, a carefully developed estate and/or business-succession plan can make an enormous difference in preserving a family's wealth. 
Women Lack Confidence About Estate-Planning Issues 
  Settling a spouse's or parent's estate is emotionally difficult for both men and women, but it presents more uncertainties for women, according to The Second Annual Merrill Lynch Estate Planning Survey. The study, conducted by Merrill Lynch, reveals that while 41% of women, compared with 29% of men, consider the financial aspects of estate planning extremely important, more than one-half of the women surveyed do not understand what it involves. The survey also reveal that: 
35% of widows are aware that federal estate taxes could claim as much as 55% of their estates. 
39% of widows, compared with 24% of widowers, are unaware that they can give an unlimited number of individuals of $10,000 each, tax-free each year. 

Estate Planning Facts Among Surveyed Men and Women 
  Chart--Established a written estate plan: men-38%, women-30%/Arranged for immediate availability of funds while estate is settled: men-54%,women-47%/Planning to minimize estate taxes: men-36%, women-26%/Aware that estate taxes can be significantly reduced by estate planning strategies: men-79%, women-58%/Aware that the estate tax marital deduction allows one to leave any amount to one's spouse, free of estate tax, but postponing the tax liability until the surviving spouse dies: men-54%, women-41%/Aware that federal estate taxes apply to estates in excess of $600,000: men-62%, women-48% 
For More Information 
  To obtain a copy of The Second Annual Merrill Lynch Estate Planning Survey and You and Your Money: A Financial Handbook for Women. call Merrill Lynch at (800) 637-7455, ext. 1356. 
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