Tips for Engaging Women During the Financial and Estate Planning Process

Author: Stacy Hanley


I’ve talked a lot about the various reasons why women are less likely than men to take the reins when it comes to financial and estate planning, but I’d like to take this a step further and present some solutions.


When it comes down to it, women’s reluctance is based on societal conditioning. Gendered social standards encourage women to behave modestly and unselfishly and avoid promoting their own self interest. Women perceive the act of demanding (or even simply asking for) what they want/need as masculine behavior. 


We are taught to be kind, compassionate, considerate, and generous far more than we are taught to be assertive and confident. We are conditioned to watch, wait, and accept whatever comes our way. As a result, we leave the asking and demanding to men.


This behavior has become cyclical. Children observe that much of the world is controlled by men and learn the rules about gender roles from a very young age.

For example, when both parents are in the car, the average father drives more than the mother, suggesting that men are in the driver’s seat and control the family’s movements and safety. Women are expected to take their husband’s last names, and children are given their father’s last name and by extension their collective identity.  Even if a woman makes more money than the man, when the family eats out, the man will typically pay the bill. 


All of this is to say that little girls grow up into women who think that money is something controlled by other people, not by themselves.


It is my passion to fight this stigma and encourage women to actively participate in the estate planning process. While I could spend hours talking about the reasons women aren’t taking the driver’s seat and how damaging this can be to their financial futures, I want to take this time to discuss how advisors, like myself, can and should invite women to the table with intentionality.


One way we can engage women and try to figure out what is important to them is to ask open-ended “deep discovery” questions. This provides women with visualizations that can help demystify what they need to have in place in order to reach their own goals.  


Here are some examples.



  • Are you currently living the way you want to be living?
  • If you could add one thing to your lifestyle that would get you closer to how you want to be living, what would it be?
  • What does wealth give you the freedom to do? What do you wish it could allow you to do?



  • How does giving represent values for you (and your family)?
  • What is important for you to accomplish with your philanthropy?



  • Give me an example of a time you got uncomfortable because of the risk involved. 
  • Tell me about the biggest loss you’ve experienced. What’s the biggest financial loss you’ve had?
  • What are the two biggest fears/concerns you have? How do these influence your life?



  • What do you want to be remembered for? 
  • If your children’s children could read your history, what would it say?
  • Who or what was the greatest influence on you in developing your principles? What do you think they would say you are to them?
  • What did you learn from your parents? What do you wish you would have learned? What do you want to pass on? 



  • What’s the thing you’ve always wanted to do, but you’ve never gotten a chance to do?
  • If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
  • When you were younger, what did you think you’d be doing now?
  • What do you think you have the ability and skill to do, but you’re holding back from doing?



  • Tell me about the most important thing education provided for you.
  • What did you learn from your parents? What do you wish you would have learned? What do you want to pass on?
  • What role does education play for future generations?
  • If you could be an expert in something, what would it be?
  • How are you going about educating your children and grandchildren on your wealth?


Looking Ahead

  • What is the next big thing in your life? And the thing after that?
  • Describe the emotion you feel when you think about the next big phase in your life. 
  • How do you picture the next phase of your life? How do you feel about it?
  • What is important for you to accomplish in the next phase of your life?


Once a woman engages in this exercise, both the woman and her advisor may start to see a pattern emerge of what is important to them or what they want—or need—to do.


Estate Planning with Lefkoff-Duncan


If you’re ready to take the driver’s seat to your future, Lefkoff-Duncan is here to help. Our experienced team will assist you in all of your estate planning endeavors so that you’ll never again need to wonder if you’ve done enough to take care of the ones you love. Give us a call at your convenience at 404-262-2000 to get started.