Pam Bennett Martin of Bennett & Bennett Insurance shared insurance considerations with participants at the Harrison County Community Foundation’s Estate Planning Issues for Women by Women seminar on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

“Why are you holding an estate planning seminar just for women? Are men and women’s needs really different when it comes to planning?”

I’ve been asked those questions repeatedly since the foundation started holding seminars especially for women. The answer is yes: Men and women do have different needs when it comes to financial and estate planning.

The simple reason why women’s needs are different is that women live longer than men, on average. Various sources estimate women outlive men by seven years in this country.  It’s also true that many women find themselves responsible for all financial decisions after years of either approaching finances in partnership with their spouses or taking a backseat.

Some women find it easier to ask questions when speaking with professional advisers who are also women. So the Harrison County Community Foundation carefully selected experts in their field to present and limited attendance to women only for the most recent Estate Planning Issues for Women by Women seminars, which took place on Aug. 14 and 21. The response was very positive.

All four professional advisers who spoke – Pam Bennett Martin of Bennett & Bennett Insurance; Leslie Vidra, attorney from Ulrich and Vidra Attorneys; Phyllis Krush, retired CPA formerly of Monroe Shine and Crystal Kehrer, financial adviser with Edward Jones – were able to bring real-life experiences and savvy information to a roomful of women eager to learn.

One thing that makes this noteworthy is the fact it’s not unique anymore. A few years ago, it would have been much harder to find all female professional advisers to present and a group of women willing to step out and explore these topics.

Just as more women have taken control of their financial matters, women have stepped up to lead in philanthropy as well. According to the report entitled “Giving By and For Women” that was published by IUPUI Women’s Philanthropy Institute in January, women are more likely than men to give to nearly every type of charity. The report goes on to say women now hold one-third of the world’s wealth.

Women outpace men in obtaining degrees in the United States.  More women are in the workforce than ever before and are staying for longer periods of time. Another interesting note from the report is that because of women’s life expectancy, many women will inherit wealth twice, once from their parents and again from their spouses.

Pulling a book down off the shelf that I thought might help me prepare for this column was like watching an episode of the Netflix show “Madmen.” Thumbing through it, I realized how outdated the “practical advice for tapping into the potential of women’s philanthropy” had become.

The book was originally published in 1995. In the past 23 years, the potential of women’s philanthropy has thankfully become widely recognized.

Yes, there are differences to keep in mind when women are thinking about their long-term needs, their estate plans and their charitable interests. It’s especially important to make sure you are speaking with a qualified adviser who understands what you want to accomplish and the assets you have to work with.

If you’d like some help exploring how to support your favorite cause, contact your community foundation at 812-738-6668 or email me at

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