Women and investing: Planning for your legacy

Passing on wealth to others is a key objective of many investors. What will your legacy be? And how can you make sure it lasts?

Share this page


Passing on wealth to others is a key objective of many families and investors. Whether this is to heirs, charities or others depends on each individual’s objectives and how they define what they want their legacy to be. 

Click through the summary carousel below or scroll further for an in-depth read

How to invest

To identify the appropriate size and investment approach for the Legacy strategy, it is important to look at the entire wealth plan and how assets can be allocated to meet investors’ needs. The UBS Wealth Way framework helps investors develop an investment strategy optimized for their goals and objectives. It can also help investors understand clearly where their money is—and why. Once investors have defined and funded strategies for short- and medium-term cash flow needs (the Liquidity strategy) and lifetime goals (the Longevity strategy), investors can invest the remaining wealth in their Legacy strategy.

The Legacy strategy does not focus on immediate cash flows. Instead, it focuses on maximizing and preserving wealth for future generations. Without the need to sustain withdrawals, regardless of market conditions, the Legacy strategy has an inherently higher capacity for risk than the Liquidity strategy or Longevity strategy resources. For a Legacy strategy, short-term volatility is less relevant to the overall health of the portfolio and the shortfall risk (likelihood of dropping below the initial wealth level) will be lower. The multigenerational time horizon also allows more flexibility for using illiquidity as a source of potential returns. A higher proportion of illiquid assets (where permissible by local jurisdiction) like illiquid hedge funds, private equity, infrastructure, and real estate can therefore be incorporated in such a portfolio, offering the potential for a higher risk-adjusted return potential.

Investment ideas


Donations to charitable causes and contributions to foundations can also be incorporated in the Legacy strategy. Once women have a plan to meet their lifetime and intergenerational goals they can confidently decide how much they can allocate for charitable causes. It is also important to take note of how best to give to philanthropy as there are several tax considerations around how to make the most with the allocated wealth.

Investing for impact

In addition to generating financial returns with their Legacy strategy assets, women may also be interested in deploying their capital to create a positive impact on society and the environment. Research shows that women tend to have greater confidence in investing their money when their values are aligned with their investments and when they see a social benefit. Incorporating sustainable investing solutions can also be a great way to engage with, and bring in, the next generation.

  • 0 %

    Female investors appear 13% more inclined than men to invest based on their values.

Donut charts showing a 13% difference (71% of women vs. 58% of men)
Source: UBS Investor Sentiment survey 2020
  • 0 %

    of women agree that money is a tool that can be used to help fulfill their purpose.

87 out of 100 highlighted dollar sign icons
Source: UBS Own Your Worth 2022


So, what steps should women take to ensure a smooth succession process? At a minimum, women need to have in place a will, together with an assigned person to execute it. Any beneficiaries of said will should be made aware of who this assigned person is. Furthermore, it would be wise to have a power of attorney and advance directive in case of illness so that heirs are able to manage any assets and ensure that your wishes are carried out in case your health deteriorates.

In addition, depending on the specific needs, trust and life insurance solutions may be key components of a successful transfer of wealth. Setting up a structure like a trust or foundation may be appropriate, for example if a beneficiary is particularly young, or ‘not ready’ to inherit a significant amount of assets all at once; or it may be expedient to clearly separate private from business assets under distinct structures.

A combination with a life insurance policy can provide additional liquidity, which may prove to be an efficient way either to ensure a more balanced inheritance among the heirs, or for dealing with certain financial needs linked with the inheritance. However, according to a 2021 study by Life Insurance and Market Research Association, only 47% of women have life insurance, compared to 58% of men, with only 22% of women feeling very knowledgeable about life insurance vs. 39% of men.9 And when women are covered by life insurance, the average level of coverage is significantly lower.10 On average, men carry life insurance policies worth nearly twice as much as their female counterparts, according to a Haven Life survey.10 Reasons for this gender gap may be women’s perception that life insurance is not worth their level of income or that it is too expensive. It is important that wealth planners discuss the potential needs and benefits of the offering in the context of wealth succession.

In certain circumstances, it can make sense that specific assets be passed on to the beneficiaries in the course of a lifetime gift(s), rather than in the event of death. Based on our investor survey, about the same amount of people choose to pass on wealth after they pass away vs. during their lifetime, with a higher percentage choosing to pass along some wealth while alive and some upon their death. Interestingly, we see no gender discrepancies in the choice of timing of the wealth succession. We do see, however, some gender differences on the reasons behind the choice of timing.


For women investors, establishing goals for the Legacy strategy is important. As women take control of a larger and growing share of wealth, they will want and need to take control of their Legacy strategy portfolios both in terms of investing them to protect and grow their wealth over generations as well as taking steps for a smooth transfer to the next generation. Women value expert advice more highly than men, both in terms of investment advice, but also in terms of facilitating discussions and executing succession plans. Women need to plan, invest smartly and orchestrate the transfer of their wealth. Through their investments, charitable donations, and financially educating their heirs, women have the potential to make a significant impact on both society and future generations.

Next steps

Download the PDF

Dive deeper into the data and research

Get in touch with UBS

Contact us to learn how we can help you

Contact your Financial Advisor

Reach out to discuss the investment implications

UBS Wealth Way is an approach incorporating Liquidity. Longevity. Legacy. strategies that UBS Advisors can use to assist clients in exploring and pursuing their wealth management needs and goals over different timeframes. This approach is not a promise or guarantee that wealth, or any financial results, can or will be achieved. All investments involve the risk of loss, including the risk of loss of the entire investment. Timeframes may vary. Strategies are subject to individual client goals, objectives and suitability.