Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Article: Son Preference in Testate Succession: An Empirical Study of Estate Distribution in Wills

Yun-chien Chang (Cornell Law School,) Sieh-Chuen Huang (National Taiwan University- College of Law,) Su-Li Her (Notary Public Office) published an Article, Son Preference in Testate Succession: An Empirical Study of Estate Distribution in Wills, 2023. Provided below is the Abstract:

Despite a plethora of normative discussions on gender equality as well as empirical studies on gender discrimination and gender effects in various settings, there is a paucity of large-scale empirical studies on son preference by ordinary people in asset distribution. Using an idiosyncratic data set on more than 1800 notarized or authenticated wills in Taiwan, this article investigates whether testators show son preference in distributing estates in wills, and if so, what the driving factors are. It finds that son preferences exist in no more than 29% of the studied wills. Moreover, no matter whether son preference is broadly or narrowly defined, and no matter whether the sample is limited to land distribution or not, the pattern is consistent: aboriginal people exhibit less son preference, as they are matrimonial; female testators do not tend to favor sons; in wills distributing more valuable estate and those distributing land, son preference is more pronounced. Notarized wills tend to contain son-preferring provisions, likely because the formal validity of notarized wills is usually upheld if disputes arise, and male-preferring provisions often violate the mandatory share law. Thus, testators, when preparing a will that favors their sons, elect to notarize their wills. Finally, the strategic bequest theory explains the testator decisions in some wills but the altruism theory barely explains the estate distribution in any wills.


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