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On average, women live five years longer than men, and it is currently estimated that 70 percent of baby boomer women will outlive their husbands. According to a recent ING Direct USA survey, almost 80 percent of boomer women say they lack the financial savvy to make the right financial planning decisions and 40 percent still leave financial planning totally up to their husbands.

Taking action now can spare many of these women from financial panic; here are some recommendations:

Start estate planning now. Many women cannot count on having a lot of time to get their financial affairs in order after a spouse dies. Make sure all your accounts are jointly held and steps are taken to avoid probate if possible. You will want continuing access to all your assets if your spouse dies before you do.

Educate yourself. Know what you have in terms of assets and where to find those assets. Sit down now with your spouse and make a full list of all accounts, passwords and contacts and keep the list in a safe place.

Delay Social Security. If a husband was the primary earner and can hold off taking Social Security benefits until age 70, a surviving wife will qualify for a significant benefit premium.

Don’t make hasty decisions about money. Experts recommend that widows not make any major decisions – financial or otherwise – in the first six months of widowhood.

Get professional help. The help of an estate planning attorney or financial planner can be invaluable following the death of a spouse, helping you navigate the estate administration process and ensuring your financial future.

The Flanigan Law Group provides Southern California residents with personal attention for estate planning, administration and litigation legal services. When disputes between families, arise, they are very successful in resolving legal estate issues quickly and efficiently while preserving financial and emotional resources. Contact the Flanigan Law Group at 949-450-0042.