During her 35-year marriage,
Now a semiretired interior designer in
As a woman nearing retirement age with substantial assets,
Nearly one million women in 2007 had assets of at least
To some degree, this lucky group shares the same concerns as wealthy older people of both sexes throughout history, including complex investment choices and the risk of financial swindles. But some of the challenges and circumstances represent uncharted territory.
''We don't have a lot of women role models who are older than us,'' said
The proportion of women 65 and older who were divorced tripled to 12 percent in 2008 from 4 percent in 1980, according to ''The Gray Divorce Revolution,'' a 2013 report by
For boomer-age women who stay married, there could be a double inheritance: from their thrifty, Depression-raised parents and from their husbands.
Yet since women's life expectancy is typically around five years more than men's, according to
If they outlive their partners, moreover, women may need to hire caretakers. These same women are likely to have already devoted years to caring for their parents, spouses, other less wealthy relatives and so-called boomerang children who return home after college if they cannot find jobs.
''Women are generally seen as the caretakers in the world, and it certainly falls on high-net-worth women because they have the resources,'' said
Even for the rich, such obligations can be a financial burden as well as an emotional one. Although
Because the rise of women in business ranks is still recent, wealthy women face a lingering perception that they are sweet old things who don't understand money — whether the attitude comes from financial swindlers, greedy suitors or well-meaning male relatives.
''It is not uncommon for family members to come to the 'assistance' of widows'' whose husbands always handled the finances, said
But the caricature of the financially ignorant grandma is disappearing, said
To help wealthy women prepare for the long term, two pieces of advice are almost universal: Buy long-term care insurance and shift enough assets into an annuity or another financial product to provide a steady income stream roughly equal to expected expenses.
In addition, these women can optimize
''As you get older, you may have more cognitive problems,'' she added, ''so put into place a structure that requires less managing.'' One suggestion is to pay off the mortgage early.
Perhaps surprisingly, many experts say that the longer life span does not necessarily mean women should use a different investment strategy than men. That is because ''asset allocation should align with a person's values, goals and risk tolerance'' more than longevity, said
Especially if a woman has an annuity to guarantee some income,
Of course, the picture is not all bleak. Not only does money itself buy some happiness, but the women also bring the strengths that helped them build their wealth.
''This group of women are trailblazers,''
PHOTO: Knowledge of her family's finances helped
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