Why don't Women have Wills?
Women have overflowing wardrobes, the sparkle of excessive bling, designer bags and shoes, but not wills?
What’s that about?
At a time when our voices are louder than they have ever been about gender inequality, why are women still not doing the basic things they should do to ensure a position of personal power?
Each time I run one of our signature events, ‘Wealth is Women’s Business’ I feel mixed emotions. I’m perplexed, but I’m also hopeful that my work is not in vein and I can really make a difference to women’s attitudes and approaches to managing their wealth and personal affairs.
I believe we are our own harshest critics, and every time I run a financial literacy event for women, I see a room full of successful, educated professional women self-rate their financial literacy as a 5-6. I don’t know that those figures are an accurate representation of their true levels of literacy, but what I do know for a fact is that every month I encounter women without wills. It still perplexes me at a time in society when I see women with so much stuff (that ultimately needs to be bequeathed to somebody!). Nice cars, designer clothing, expensive jewellery and even appreciating assets…Yet they have no will.
This is not a phenomenon of single successful women. I meet plenty of married women like this, and most shocking to me, mothers with no wills, no financial powers of attorney and no medical decision makers appointed. Of course, I have asked too many women to count the question of ‘why?’. The answers vary, but the ultimate underlying theme I find is a lack of understanding about the critical consequences of not having a will or powers of attorney in place.
Over the years, it would be my guess that more than 70-80% of all women I have worked with have not had a will. I have found the most effective way to appeal to women to start getting this basic stuff in order is to think about the impact on those they care about when they fail to put these important arrangements in place. Their grieving families who are left to sort out the mess, the potential of conflict about assets, or worse, the disputes about the care of orphaned children.
The other thing for women to think about is that they invest so much time in this life defining and being them, be it through the careers they choose, their charitable efforts, the dress style they choose as part of their personal brand, or the public attitudes and views they hold. To not leave instructions to family members about their final day of farewell seems odd.
It reminds me of attending a colourful friend's funeral a few years back, whose personality was bigger than life, who never wore black and who rebelled against convention and tradition. I arrived at a very traditional ceremony, where everyone was dressed in formal black and whose service made me question whether I was simply confused and had turned up to someone else’s funeral.
On 14 July I will run my final Doing Day for 2018, where women from all walks of life can come together in a safe space and get their affairs in order, including wills, powers of attorney, superannuation & insurance reviews.
All of the things every modern woman should have in place to be a fully-fledged adult!