48 percent more women than men registered applications for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) last year, with over 350,000 registered by women, compared to 238,000 by men, according to UK private client law firm Wilsons.
LPAs allow individuals to pass on the legal responsibility for making financial decisions on their behalf, in case of loss of mental capacity.
Wilsons said that a key driver for more women registering LPAs is that women tend to live longer than men. Therefore, there are likely to be more elderly women who will need to rely on friends or family for help with finances and other legal documentation in their later years.
In addition, the firm said the difference between the genders was because for some women who are part of a generation when for many their husband’s role as financial provider was clearly defined as a social expectation, are outliving their husbands and find that their lack of experience in dealing with finances can make an LPA necessary.
Until independent taxation was introduced in 1990, married women had to declare everything on their husbands’ tax returns as their income was considered part of their husband’s income. Before 1990, wives were unable to file tax returns themselves - reinforcing the husband’s statutory responsibility for finances.
Alison Morris, a partner at Wilsons, said: “Many women have depended on their husbands to look after the family finances – without them, these women can be left stranded.
“It may seem very old-fashioned, but it has been just 27 years since the law that married women had to declare their income on their husband's tax return was overturned.
“There is a long-term trend for more women registering LPAs than men, as the older generation are often more patterned into stereotypical roles where the husband takes care of the finances, as the main breadwinner.
“These women are often more likely to acknowledge that they might need help, particularly when it comes to their finances. Therefore, they are often more inclined to accept assistance from family and friends in later life, in the form of LPAs.”
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