He Says, She Asks: Gender, Language, and the Law of Precatory Words in Wills

60 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2005 Last revised: 12 Sep 2010

Alyssa A. DiRusso

Samford University - Cumberland School of Law

Date Written: September 8, 2010

Abstract

Precatory language is often insufficient to create a legally binding trust. Men and women choose different language to express themselves. What is the connection between these two statements?

This article reviews the current status of the law of precatory language, concluding that whether a will including precatory words (such as wish, ask, or recommend) will be construed to create a trust is at best a hit or miss proposition. The article continues to explore the psychology literature on differences in language ability and expression between men and women. Finally, the article ties these two disciplines together, analyzing original empirical data collected from 324 subjects and concluding that women are indeed more likely to use precatory language than men. The article concludes by noting the impact our heightened understanding of gender and precatory language has for courts, legal scholars, and practicing attorneys.

Keywords: precatory, wills, trusts, gender, women, estate planning, language, sex

JEL Classification: K00, K30

Suggested Citation

DiRusso, Alyssa A., He Says, She Asks: Gender, Language, and the Law of Precatory Words in Wills (September 8, 2010). Wisconsin Women's Law Journal, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=829785

Alyssa A. DiRusso (Contact Author)

Samford University - Cumberland School of Law ( email )

800 Lakeshore Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35229
United States

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