[as originally published on thehypemag.com]
Naz Barouti is releasing her first book entitled “Love, Death, and Money: A Woman’s Guide to Legally Protecting Yourself.” It’s a guide aimed at helping to protect yourself legally before, during, and after a relationship. It also teaches its readers to be more financially aware, to not be so dependent upon their significant other, which is something that Barouti would like to implement into college curriculum and high school in order to help students be better equipped to handle budgeting responsibilities before they enter the professional world.
Barouti is a woman that wears many hats. She’s an attorney, radio host, author, and motivational speaker. Over the past ten years, she has established herself in the legal field and is known as the estate planning “guru.” During her career, she has been asked to speak on numerous platforms such as Fox News Radio, Bloomberg TV, USA Today, and Fox 11 News offering legal commentary in matters of death in the family, divorce, and criminal prosecution trials involving high-profile public figures.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the estate planning “guru” about some of the equality issues that we have in today’s society and the best way to advise her clients when leaving estate decisions to relatives.
How did you come up with the concept for your book “Love, Death, and Money: A Woman’s Guide to Legally Protecting Yourself”?
As you know, I am an attorney and sometimes people who come into my office are in relationships, or they are about to get married. The trend I began to notice was that the men were making most of the appointments and dominating the conversations, not being transparent with how much money they had or where things were located. They were taking control of everything, and I could see the uncomfortable looks on the women’s faces who were sitting in front of me. They did not know what to say; it was like they almost did not have a voice. I also realized a lot of women were financially dependent on their significant other.
That narrative, however, has changed since women are making just as much if not more money than men. Unfortunately, despite all the advancements for women, many still hold on to the traditional roles of a man and a woman. Many believe the man should take the lead in finding attorneys and financial advisors to help with legal and financial matters. This is something that I don’t think we can ever get away from, whether you are in a liberal city or a conservative city. It doesn’t matter. And so because of that, I noticed that either they were hesitant to call to make an appointment with another attorney to kind of guide them – just because they didn’t have the financial resources to pay for an attorney – or it was not understandable, or it was information from someone that maybe wasn’t as experienced. There are a lot of lawyers that will provide information when are not necessarily experienced in the field that they’re talking about.
How does this book differ from other legal texts out there?
I see this book as a legal bible for women because it’s an easy-to-follow guide for any stage in your life. One of the chapters will apply to you, and I haven’t seen anyone do something like this where it’s easy to understand. And it’s an affordable book. It’s a way to kind of open your eyes and protect yourself before it’s too late. It’s also relatable, because I didn’t just throw in a bunch of legal information. I actually shared real-life stories of women at different stages in life and how they could have avoided many pitfalls and red flags, and how their life would have been much different [if they had] legally protected themselves. So it’s not just providing the legal information, it’s also applying the law to actual situations. So I think it becomes more real when you hear the story.
If you were going to pitch your book to be a part of law professors’ curriculum, how would go about it?
I would actually try to pitch this book for college students, because I think that it’s really important to know, as we’re growing up as young women, that you should love yourself and not just on a superficial level. We focus a lot on providing confidence for women from the exterior. My goal is to make sure that women are also confident financially. We always see these celebrity stories where the guy becomes violent or aggressive, and there’s a domestic abuse issue. Sometimes the woman stays, and we’re so quick to judge and say, “Why would she do that?” But we need to take a step back and realize that there is a financial aspect to it, and there’s financial control. I hate to single men out, but a lot of men control financially, and because of that, women put up with a lot. I think in women’s studies classes, and even in high school, we should start teaching young ladies how to be financially independent at an early age. That’s how I would pitch it.
Do you plan on going on a book tour to promote your book after the holidays?
Eventually! Right now we are planning on doing smaller events. I have reached out to a lot of organizations such as Laura’s House. I’m trying to provide these organizations this extremely useful information and copies of the book so that they can then give it to the women so they know how to prepare and start their life over from a legal point of view. For example, how they can protect their kids if something happens to them, what to do if they become incapacitated. I’d love to do a book tour eventually, but I don’t have anything planned yet. And I really want to emphasize the timing of this book coming out in December. It is a great gift for any woman in your life at any stage in her life. I think that if you’re wondering what to get someone that’s something of value and not just a gift card, this is a great stocking stuffer.
In your opinion why is it difficult to talk about financial planning and some of the other things that come with estate management?
I think that first of all, no wants to talk about dying, which is a huge aspect of estate planning. And no one wants to talk about money, because people get weird around money. So, we just put it off. I also think for me, I see a trend like – culturally – I’m Middle Eastern, and we don’t like to talk about it either, or many people take offense when you want to talk about their death. I think that it’s an uncomfortable conversation to have, but it’s a necessary one because when you don’t have this conversation, things can go terribly wrong. No one knows what a person who’s gone would want, which causes a lot of family turmoil. It can cause a lot of conflicts. I believe we should teach young adults how to develop the skills to deal with the fact that they’re not going to be here one day, and it’s important to be proactive in taking care of ourselves legally, physically, financially and emotionally.
What should people look for when they are choosing the executor for their estate?
It is really important to know who you are working with when you are selecting the right person to manage your estate after you’re gone. I always advise parents that have more than one child to select all children to make decisions together, instead of just selecting one. If you only picked one, the other children are going to wonder why mom and dad only picked one child. And even if you think that one out of the two is more responsible, I wouldn’t advise leaving it up to that one child, because we don’t know how that one will be influenced. They may be trustworthy in your eyes, but they may also have a spouse or a friend that’s going to influence them and try to encourage them to do something that doesn’t align with your wishes.
Throughout your career, you have been able to thrive in your industry. How were you able to navigate through a male-dominated profession?
I’m very fortunate in the way that I was raised, and I’m very close with my father. My father is and was a mentor growing up. He taught me how to be a businesswoman, but to be a businesswoman in a male-dominated environment. So, I never felt like I had to prove myself because of my gender. If I feel like someone is disrespecting me or making me feel uncomfortable or not listening to what I’m saying, then I just raise my voice. I communicate my thoughts and opinions in a very straightforward manner. I was raised kind of like a boy. It was very easy for me to be in this male-dominated environment, and also I don’t limit myself because of the opinions of others.
In one of your recent interview, you stated that women have found it difficult to address some of the equality issues in our society. Why do think some of your male counterparts find strong-minded women as a threat?
I think what I said in my last interview was something along the lines that women avoid being vocal about what they want professionally, and romantically to not come across as difficult. I hope this book can give women the confidence and tools to be proactive in protecting themselves. I want women to know that any man who has issues with a woman expressing her needs and wants is not the type of man you should try to change. Walk away and find a confident man.
What is your advice for young ladies out there who are working their tails off, but are not receiving the credit financially in today’s climate?
Make sure to have a contract. Get everything in writing! It is so critical that you have the terms of any business relationship clearly written out. Also, make sure to get a deposit before you begin any job. There is something to be said with professionals who make demands; I naturally have more respect for them because they know their worth. For people who feel like they’re not getting paid enough, ask yourself, why? Is it because you’re still not at the level you need to be to be getting paid what you think you deserve? Make sure your ego is not demanding a certain amount before you are qualified to start charging more. Pay your dues and the rest will follow.