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Finding Power in Possibility

Prepare for aging in order to confidently navigate your financial future.

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For many of us, planning for aging looks vastly different from prior generations, particularly for women.

With advancements in healthcare and lifestyles, more of us than ever before are living past 100 — a trend that is expected to quadruple over the next several decades.1 Many women may find themselves in their fifties when their last child leaves for college, or retired by 60. These life events mark significant transitions, leaving many women with decades of life still ahead. With longer lifespans comes the chance to explore new passions, embark on fresh adventures, and pursue dreams that may have been put on hold.

Yet, with the average age of widowhood reported to be 59 by the U.S. Census Bureau, and the increasing prevalence of "gray divorce" among couples over 50, a growing number of us will find ourselves navigating the emotional and financial complexities of aging alone. And without a clear roadmap or a partner for support, it becomes essential for women to adequately prepare for the multitude of circumstances that lie ahead.

Take Anita, as an example: a woman in her mid-sixties, recently divorced and starting a new life in Austin, Texas.

Anita was a former accountant, and despite that background it had been decades since she'd been at the helm of her financial affairs. We met her at one of our Elevating Women programs, which was focused on understanding your wealth and its implications for your day-to-day.

At the end of that program, Anita approached an advisor. “I could tell that she was really concerned about something,” shared the advisor. “She had a tremendous amount of anxiety on her face.” Anita shared that she had recently divorced a Wall Street executive who managed all their financial decisions throughout their marriage. They were doing what many couples do, dividing and conquering as they were raising their family.

Although the divorce was amicable, and overall she was pleased with her settlement, Anita had no idea what that settlement would mean for her future and how to successfully build a new life around it.

Evidently, she had made some significant life changes: relocating to a new city, purchasing a new home, renovating it, buying a new car, and even joining a country club — each a substantial financial commitment. Yet, as Anita reflected on her fresh start, she grappled with overwhelming stress and anxiety. Had her recent expenditures jeopardized her financial stability? Would she outlive her wealth? Was she unprepared to face unforeseen expenses like medical emergencies or long-term care? Anita's fears extended to her two daughters, who were embarking on their own journeys into motherhood. She dreaded the thought of becoming a burden to them.

“As she continued to share, and the more that I learned, I realized, there were certainly things that we could help her with, but overall, she was on a pretty good path,” explained the advisor. “But what was far more important than what I thought, was what she thought.”

Until now, Anita had always relied on someone else's financial decisions, so it was important for her to build confidence around her ability to make informed financial decisions on an ongoing basis. Otherwise, she would likely continue to feel paralyzed, which is certainly not the right way to start the next chapter of your life.

So, we began to work with her in a way that would enable her to see the impact that her new lifestyle would have, given her resources from her divorce settlement, and what that would look like for her, assuming she lived well into her nineties. “As we went through that process, and frankly, she saw the larger picture, I actually saw her sit up straighter, lean closer in at the table,” shared the advisor, “I remember her reaction was, ‘Wow, I'm actually in a lot better shape than I thought.’ It was an amazing moment.”

This process created the opportunity for Anita to discuss the other possibilities in her life, things that she had never imagined just a week earlier. Anita began to talk about the vision that she had for herself, and what she really wanted in her next chapter. She shared that she was extremely passionate about philanthropy, and that she hoped to make some significant annual gifts to her alma mater.

So together, Anita and her advisor began exploring options for giving that would not only help the University of Texas but would also help her from a tax perspective. This experience also helped her get excited about her future and its many possibilities, and empowered her to make decisions with confidence.

And that’s our goal.

Older woman in a kayak in the middle of a lake
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This information is not intended to be and should not be treated as legal, investment, accounting or tax advice and is for informational purposes only. Readers, including professionals, should under no circumstances rely upon this information as a substitute for their own research or for obtaining specific legal, accounting or tax advice from their own counsel. All information discussed herein is current only as of the date appearing in this material and is subject to change at any time without notice.