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Simple estate planning steps for women over 50

As our society has changed over the preview few decades, many women are beginning to find themselves on their own as they approach late middle age. Whether through divorce, death of a spouse or simply deciding never to marry, middle-aged women are beginning to control an increasing portion of our nation's wealth.

Preparing to meet financial challenges and goals after our working years is important. Single women over 50, in particular, should take special steps to protect their retirement and financial legacy. Here are some simple steps from that every woman should take as soon as possible.

Save, save and then save some more

Statistically, women earn less than men and they live longer, too. Over a lifetime, those reduced earnings are likely to mean saving less for retirement, as well. If you are still in your 50s, it's not too late to start saving as much as you can -- as often as you can. Even 10 or 15 years of saving and investing properly can help avoid trying to make ends meet only on Social Security when you retire. It may often feel like you can't save a dime, but there are people and nonprofit agencies out there ready to show you just how to start. Here's an incentive: You can draw down 4 percent of your savings to supplement your Social Security every year, and you will never run out of money over the remainder of your lifetime.

Start investing your savings right away

Have you noticed that banks aren't paying much interest on passbook savings accounts these days? If you want to grow your money above the inflation rate, you will need to invest. An experienced financial advisor and estate planning attorney will help you address your goals. Here is something comforting: There are investment instruments available that will offer guaranteed growth with a very low risk of potential loss.

Invest your retirement earnings, too

And when you reach retirement age, don't shoot the wad by drawing out all of your savings. Keep them invested in a low risk investment opportunity. And if you can make ends meet on your Social Security and four percent supplement every month, then keep saving and investing what you have left each month.

Think very carefully about when to start claiming Social Security pay

The longer you wait to claim Social Security retirement pay, the more you will receive each month. And it's no small amount of difference, either. If you can afford to live off your savings for a year or two after retirement, before claiming Social Security, you can increase your total Social Security amount by tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your expected lifetime.

Set up an estate plan now, not tomorrow

The sooner you work with an estate planning professional, the sooner you will start working toward meeting your goals. We can show you how legal instruments such as an updated will and trust options can help you feel comfortable that you are heading in the right direction.

Call our law firm to schedule consultation about your estate planning goals and needs right away.

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    --David and Ajia Cherry, Fairport
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