Women take charge!

01 August 2009 Jose Delgado, iProtect

Women feature in every aspect of our society and the business world, often also single-handedly attending to the family and household needs. Yet, women appear to take a back seat when it comes to the family's financial affairs.

Unfortunately, we still live in a patriarchal society where sorting out the family affairs is considered the "man's domain". This is simply unacceptable as the whole family bears the brunt of inaction and poor or inadequate planning.

Willing and able

Most women are financially astute and certainly capable of attending to, or at the very least participating in, the necessary planning to ensure the family assets are properly protected from creditors, and that a comprehensive plan is in place to address the family's well-being after the death of one or both spouses.

However, many women leave the financial planning entirely up to their partners or spouses and have no idea what will happen in the event of a financial calamity, or following their own or their spouse's death, or the death of both spouses. Since women statistically outlive men, it is absolutely vital that women ask questions, get involved and participate in ensuring the family assets are secured and that the family has the necessary resources to continue living the lifestyle they are accustomed to following the death of one or both spouses.

This will most certainly stir up debate amongst married couples, but it is far preferable to yet another family being left destitute after the husband's death.

Trust solutions

A simple solution to ensure that the family assets, specifically the family home, are always secured, is to place these assets in a trust. A trust is a unique entity in that, coupled with the correct administration and following the lapse of the requisite time periods in terms of the Insolvency Act, will secure the assets from any possible claim by any third party.

Valid will

It is also crucial to draft a valid Will, which will deal with assets not held by the trust, as well as the appointment of guardians for minor children, among other issues.

Life insurance

Another very important aspect to consider is the liquidity or cash required following the death of a spouse or both spouses. This is where life insurance plays a role. In many instances only the husband is insured. This approach must be re-visited to ensure that the needs of the family are properly considered and that appropriate cover is in place for both spouses.

Once the necessary amount of cover has been determined, it is crucial that the policy or policies on the respective spouses' lives are owned by a trust. This is to ensure that estate duty efficiencies are achieved, but more importantly, that the proceeds of the policy flow to the trust so it is protected from the creditors of the deceased, and any possible creditor of any beneficiary. In addition, it will ensure that such proceeds will always be available to the family, or to the children if both spouses have passed away. This is even more critical if any of the children are minors.

Broker's role

There are many issues that need to be considered and implemented to achieve optimal tax and estate planning and a reliable, trustworthy financial advisor is crucial in this regard. Such an advisor will ensure that both spouses are involved in the planning and decision-making and that both spouses understand the risks they face and the solutions available to manage these risks.

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