Deep Conversation With Patricia Annino

How do certain factors prevent women leveraging and enjoying the art of giving? How do you counsel women who have a lack of understanding about money?

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Women in a general way do not want to stand out – they want to get along. The Wellesley College Stone center has done a great deal of work on relational/cultural theory-in essence that women want to belong, to be accepted and be part of the pack- they are concerned about how they are viewed and how they get along with others and they want everyone to get along with each other- to stand out from the pack in any way- and I think that includes how the dollars they want to donate means they have to risk individuating themselves and deal with philanthropy in a way that is different from their friends. That can lead to a status quo level of giving – they give to the extent that their peers do, their friends do, their community does – a safe, acceptable level of gifting. Men are more likely to risk individuation and in fact go farther than that and strive for it. Women have to understand why they are doing what they are doing and be comfortable taking risks and be strategic leaders.

In my practice I have seen countless women – regardless of how wealthy they are – give a multitude of charities small amounts of money rather than harnessing their money and thinking about if that annual donative amount – whatever it is in their budget this year- was focused toward one project/cause/charity the more bang for the buck it could give. That is not intuitive to most women.

Most women in this country will inherit money twice –once from the parents and once from their spouse –it is important that women educate themselves to understand wealth and money and as Barbara says “Prince Charming Is not Coming” and take the steps they need to take to educate themselves, then empower then act.

The keys to the kingdom are on the table and I have found that it is not men that are stopping women from picking those keys up- it is women who choose not to pick them up. Many husbands have told me in front of their wives – I wish my wife would pay more attention to this, I wish my wife would participate in investment decisions.

An example is a significant client I met with last year- he is in his early 60’s, happily married with four daughters and a very significant business. We met to discuss estate planning and he and all his male advisors were in the room with me. I asked him who he wanted to serve as his executor and trustee and he asked me what the difference was –I explained that the person who was in the fiduciary capacity had the authority to make all decisions, hire and fire whoever they wanted to, decide if the business could be sold, make investment decisions etc. Without hesitation he said- my wife and then my daughters. I looked around the room of men and asked him – why isn’t she here? It would be unfair to hang that rap on him though because she knew where he was going that day- to meet me and discuss these issues and she did not say- why don’t I go with you? She left it totally up to him to make decisions that will impact her- not him. They should have both been in the room and both of them should have thought that –these are smart motivated, successful people in a good marriage –estate planning in particular is what happens if the person you are entwined with – financially and emotionally, dies or becomes disabled- what is that consequence to you?

The question women have to ask themselves is – if not now when am I going to pick up the keys to the kingdom and claim my seat at this table- there is no time like the present and the Scarlett O’Hara I will worry about it tomorrow attitude only leads to problems.

A challenge facing men and women today with philanthropy is that as taxes are longer the major reason to enter into a discussion of how much to give- income tax brackets are low, capital gains brackets are low, the gift and estate tax bracket of 35% has not been this low in 8 decades, there is federally a $5 million per person lifetime exclusion for gifting and estate tax purposes- the challenge is to think about gifting when there are not motivating reasons except for the right ones to gift- and I think women are better suited than men to come to the table and have that discussion. The challenge is for them to be aware that this is an issue and educate them on the ways to begin to deal with it. Many of the great institutions in this country- Girl Scouts, Smith College were started by women with a vision.

And a plan. And challenge themselves to date their dreams and accomplish their philanthropic goals.

Women must be educated. When educated women are empowered and they act. The conversation has to start to raise the topics and programs like this one are foundational building blocks that will put philanthropic programs in motion.

Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  Annino recently released an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime.  To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

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