Unfortunately, women are less likely than men to have an estate plan to protect themselves and their beneficiaries. There’s a lot of speculation as to why this is…maybe it’s because women are so busy making sure everyone else is taken care of that they put themselves at the bottom of their to-do list. Maybe they rely on their husbands or others to make these important decisions. Whatever the reason, the facts are that women outlive men, and that women, on average, earn less than men. This puts women in a potentially very vulnerable position when it comes to both financial and estate planning. Consider the increased chance of becoming mentally incapacitated with age. If you don’t have an incapacity plan in place, then you’ll be at the mercy of the court system when it comes to deciding who will take care of you and who will control your financial future. Couple this with the fact that often, women don’t have an independent plan in place for retirement, and the later years of life can begin to look very bleak indeed. What can you do? You can take control of your future. The first step is to sit down with an estate planning attorney and a financial advisor and get some sound advice about how to make sure you – and not just your husband – have a plan in place for retirement, incapacity, and beyond. Make sure you have someone of your choice in place to make medical and financial decisions for you if there’s ever a time when you can’t do it for yourself. Make sure you understand what retirement investments you have in place, when and how you can access them, and the taxes and penalties involves. Make sure you have adequate life insurance in place to protect yourself and your family. Ask questions about planning and paying for long-term care. These are all issues that can seem daunting if you have to face them on your own. The good news is that you don’t – there are qualified professionals available to guide you through every step of the estate planning process. With an effective estate plan in place, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your needs are taken care of, no matter what the future holds.