As a wills attorney, I hear quite often the phrase “I don’t need a will because…”
Today I’ll finish that sentence off with ….. “I do not have children.”
My immediate response is to ask them whether or not they an opinion on what happens to their money, real estate, and things when they die? They usually do have an opinion. So here it is: IF YOU HAVE AN OPINION, YOU NEED A WILL. HOW ABOUT EVERYONE NEEDS A WILL.
Actually, you need an entire estate plan. Which means you need a last will and testament, an advance directive for health care and a durable financial power of attorney (at a minimum).
But this idea of not having children equates to not needing a will is really untrue and the roots of where it comes from, while not necessarily the focus on this blog post, is clear: your voice and opinion doesn’t matter if you are a woman and you do not have children. More disturbing, you do not matter if you are a woman and you do not have children.
This is so frustrating, so maddening, so deeply upsetting to me. Women matter. Women matter, no matter if they have children or not! Their choices matter. In fact, I feel as though their choices matter even more than men’s choices in estate planning.
Why? Fact No. 1: I make no bones about the pure, uncontested fact that women outlive men. Fact No. 2: Most relationships between a man and a woman involve men who are older than women. Fact No. 3: When he ages and needs more long term care sooner, the woman traditionally care gives. Fact No. 4: When he dies first, it is the women’s estate planning (or lack there of) that will control. Fact No. 5: If you are a woman and you are not in a relationship, your estate plan will control when you become ill, or if you become incapacitated, or die.
And all of this is whether or not a woman has children or not. Nothing changes here. So women’s choices matter more then men’s in estate planning.
But, I meet with women who share that they didn’t feel their choices mattered because they don’t have children. They share that there isn’t someone to necessarily worry about having to take care of them or take care of their estate when they pass. The overall sense that it doesn’t matter if they have a will. Sometimes there is an avoidance of getting a will because they do not know who to name.
Women need wills. Women need estate plans. We have worked with countless women who have children and do not have children. There are ways to work through your estate plan, name people to help you if you become ill and need assistance, name people to wind down and receive your estate when you pass. Make sure your choices are heard. Make sure your choices are heard because your choices matter. Your opinions matter.