Women, if you have been single all of your life or are alone through death or divorce, your needs and focus are somewhat unique when it comes to considering your legacy and how it relates to developing a God-honoring estate plan.
In this post, taken from my upcoming book The Master’s Plan, I want to give you 5 considerations to take into account when approaching your estate planning and how it will help you set up and establish a family legacy that honors God and create Kingdom impact for generations to come.
1. Seek God’s partnership and reliable advisors.
My experience with women who are not dependent on a man is that they are by choice or necessity forced to become very independent. They must find themselves and their place in God’s Kingdom. They seek God’s partnership and direction. They, sometimes for the first time, find out who they are and what their unique contribution is. What a wonder when that happens. I have had the pleasure of seeing it unfold in women whose husbands have died and in those who have gone through a tough divorce.
Whatever the situation, most women are looking for reliable, caring, honest advice on estate planning and family legacy planning. What they are seeking is not just a formula for saving on taxes. They want a meaningful conversation that explores their interests and what is meaningful to them. They want to trust their attorneys, and many times do not know who else to trust, but deep down they have a longing for a more intimate, deep discussion of their family and their legacy.
2. Seek to be understood and take your time.
Whether married or not, most women have a need to be understood and visible. Any advisor, who hopes to help them, needs to understand that women need time and an understanding ear in order to digest and understand how they can make their family legacy dynamic and impactful for the Kingdom. They want first an empathetic ear that does not rush them or push them. They want to be respected for their opinions and their focus on family. They do not want to be bogged down with numbers or sophisticated language on trusts and strategies. When they trust an advisor, however, they do want the best and most strategic plan possible.
3. Build upon your natural leadership abilities.
Women who have been married are traditionally the leader in all relationship-based issues. They need to be purposeful in that leadership. What they are looking for is information that makes their job easier and material that celebrates their individuality and their mastery over the many critical things that they are pursuing.
4. Evaluate God’s story for your life by asking important questions.
If you want to get to know a man, talk or play sports with him. You have found common ground. What is the common ground for women? What environments offer those things that are important to her? Women whom I counsel tell me that they love to be part of a bigger story. They love the fact that God weaves the family together in a story of meaning and purpose. Questions are a great way of moving women into the conversation. Women build trust by showing interest and asking questions.21 Women, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is natural. Don’t let anyone intimidate you into thinking you are stupid or naïve. Questions are the best way to learn and to design your unique plan
We have all heard that women use twice as many words as men. Women need to look at different angles to things so they can understand their impact on family and friends. Often this takes more questions and words. They feel appreciated when they are respected for taking the time and being patient with the process.
5. Money is only one of many tools to further your mission.
Many years ago, I decided that I would try to build a planning business that focused on women as well as men. I did an enormous amount of research so that I could give workshops for women only. I discovered that men like to take risks for risk’s sake. They enjoy building bigger barns. They like to make quick decisions, and they rely on less information. Most men look to the bottom line to solve problems, and then they move on to the next challenge.
When I go golfing with a few buddies, our talk is pretty shallow. It may be about the newest club or how the Masters went or how the business is doing. I remember one time I came back from playing golf and my wife asked me if I had discussed my buddy’s wife’s mother and her recent illness. I am sorry to say, it never came up.
Women want to understand a situation and are very interested in the details as they relate to family and friends. Men are pretty bottom line, and that frustrates women.
Women view money not as an end in itself, but rather as one of many tools that can further their mission. A survey by Grey Matter Research indicates that other interests, such as “having enough time to do what I want,” “seeing children become successful,” and seeing the children get married and have grandchildren rank higher with most women than wealth accumulation.
I found in my research that the importance of money for women has to do with how it will impact people. Looking at facts and figures may work for men, but, for the most part, that is boring to women unless it furthers their agenda of family. For the most part, this is the reason why women worry over money decisions when they are alone. They feel responsible to everyone and want to make the best possible stewardship decision. They will delay decisions when they feel they have knowledge gaps. They will spend time reading and researching in order to get the necessary facts. The obvious negative of this approach is that women sometimes do not make a decision because they do not have the confidence to pull the trigger. When alone, women will need an advisor that helps them move forward with a decision.
Women are satisfied when they have reached their goals while men want to continue taking risks. As a result, many studies have shown that women are better investors than men because they tend to lose less in down markets.
So the issue women have with making financial decisions when they are alone is not an issue of making bad decisions. It is an issue of time and research and comfort. If you are a signal woman, do not worry over your difficulty with making those decisions. It is natural and a part of who you are. Just find advisors, be they attorneys, accountants, planners, or brokers, who will take the time to listen and who are not in a rush to make decisions.
Download this free ebook that will help you understand what’s possible once you discover how to become a better steward by eliminating taxesand focusing on Kingdom causes that will enable you to build an enduring family legacy.
By Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring
about significant impact for His Kingdom.