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Will Strategy: If you're dying and your wife is young... Don't leave her anything

The title is provocative, of course.

But this is exactly what happens.

Here is the data from the analysis of 1.000 probated wills (Smith, Kish, and Crawford, 1987):

  • Women distributed their estates to a larger number of people (2.8 VS 2.0)

This might be because women have a stronger tendency towards building and maintaining networks of support (also see "The Female Brain")

  • A majority of men left their entire estates to their wives, often with expressed confidence that the wife would pass along the resources to their children

Men tend to trust women more.

Well, because, on average, they can (in this case)
Women have higher parental investment than men, so it is indeed more likely that women will take good care of the children.

And, of course, it's because older women are more unlikely to remarry and even more unlikely to have additional children, so the husband can be more confident that his widow will allocate the resources toward their mutual children.

  • Women never expressed trust that the man will take care of her children

Women tended to trust men less.

And they might not be wrong: older men are far more likely than older women to remarry, and they might use their previous wife’s resources to attract a new mate and perhaps even start a new family.
That's risky for her: resources will be diverted from the original wife’s children to unrelated individuals.

  • Men with young wives were more likely to leave their estate directly to their children

Which makes sense, since younger women are more likely to remarry and, possibly, have more children fathered by another man.
And they might use their late husband's money to dote on children that are not his.

Machiavellian Takeaways

So if you want to plot and strategize like a true Machiavelli:

  • Men: leave the young harlot nothing, she'll spend it with some fuckboys
  • Women: leave the lewd man nothing, he'll spend it on some sluts
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