Financial Planning: Will Awareness among women in India

Will planning is important because the document always acts as an inventory of the assets



3 years ago | 4 min read

Where there’s a Will, there’s a way

Bhavna, a 39-year-old housewife lost her husband to a cardiac arrest. The untimely demise of her husband left her shattered. It took her a few months to come out of the grief and let the reality sink in. She was now on her own and had to take care of her 2 young kids as well. Soon she realized that even after 12 years of marriage, she had no idea about the family’s finances. Her husband had provided everything that they needed but unfortunately, never told Bhavna about the financial planning he had done to secure the family’s future. Ironically, leaving them in the same position he didn’t want them to be in.

Surprisingly, this isn’t a one-off scenario. Today there are more than USD 2 billion stuck in unclaimed insurance money in India. The primary reason is that the families never knew about these policies. As a patriarchal society, managing money has been considered a man’s job and managing home a woman’s job. This reflects in the abysmally low participation of women in the workforce as well as in the financial planning of the family. It is alarming that women are not even made aware of the planning their husband has done for the family.

Extent of unawareness

To understand financial awareness & preparedness among women, there is some survey done with urban married women in India. The women were in the age group of 25 to 60 years with a combination of working women and housewives. The results were startling, even for women who can be considered generally well-off & educated.

o 56.50% of women either had no or limited idea about investments done by their husbands.

o 54.50% of women didn’t know the details of the Insurance Policy their husband has taken. 7% didn’t even know their husband had a policy or not!

o 45.00% of women weren’t aware of the health insurance policy of the family.

o 41.20% of women admitted that they will NOT even be able to locate them in case their husband isn’t around.

Such unawareness about financial planning of the family is, even more, worrying in the context that women are more likely to spend a few years of their lives without their spouse. Biologically they have a longer life-span than men and they typically marry a man who is a few years older to them.

Reasons for the unawareness

o 33% of the financially unaware women feel that their husbands are lazy or don’t have time to share this info. Since we are always occupied with various things, sometimes the seemingly ‘not-so-urgent’ matters get on the back burner.

Another major reason is awkwardness around talking about death & inheritance. 35% of women feel uncomfortable talking about these things with their husbands or aren’t sure they will understand these things.

o 15% of women in the survey also said that they didn’t think to know about the finances of the family was very important or said that they aren’t interested in it.

Contrary to the common perception, 95% surveyed women felt that they can manage things like insurance renewals, claims etc. on their own or with some help.

There can be multiple reasons for women not being involved in the financial planning of the family. Some of it is due to the biases of society. Others due to the simple fact that spouses must distribute responsibilities in marriage to manage various aspects of taking care of a family. Leaving financial decisions to husband can be a conscious decision but not being aware isn’t a great position to be in.

Overall women empowerment is a much complex problem to solve but building awareness about the family’s financial planning can be achieved. The conscious effort from both the spouses & proper tools at their disposal will make it easier.  There is an old saying: Where there’s a Will, there’s a way. Yes, "Will…." A will or testament is a legal declaration which authorizes the testator to name the people who would inherit his estate after his death. He can specify his intentions which he wishes to be fulfilled after his death and clarify all confusion regarding the distribution of his property. A will once be made can be revoked by the testator only during his lifetime. It cannot be changed or disregarded after the event of his demise and thus it is the best way to dispose off one’s property. However, one thing has to be kept in mind. A testator can only make declarations regarding his self-acquired property by way of a will. He cannot give away the joint family property or any other property not solely belonging to him. Still, in India at least, ‘Will planning’ is hardly seen as a part of financial management. But before knowing the importance of a Will or its planning, let us first understand what it actually is.

What is a Will?

It is a legal document that names individual/individuals who would receive the property and possessions of a person after his/her death. The document can be revoked, modified or substituted by the person executing it at any point during his/her lifetime.

Importance of Will planning

Will planning is important because the document always acts as an inventory of the assets left behind by the deceased. A clear and well-written Will also help in avoiding any bickering among the natural heirs. And, if a person wants to distribute his/her wealth to anyone other than the natural heirs, the Will assumes paramount importance.


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