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3 ways women and men differ when it comes to investing

When it comes to investing, women differ in three important ways from men, said Zaneilia Harris, president of Harris and Harris Wealth Management Group.

First, women should not act when distressed or under stress, she warned, noting that — in her experience — women sometimes are prone to making "rash" decisions under pressure.

"I've encountered this with friends and clients who've come to me after they've made the decision," Harris said. "In some cases, they signed legal documents that cannot be altered."

Woman in office
Terry Vine | Getty Images

Second, women need to pay extra attention to protecting their legacy. Harris encourages her female clients to draw up, at a minimum, at least a last will and testament. "Why? Because in the will is where you identify … the guardians of your children in the event that something happens to you," she said.

In addition, setting up a trust fund can help women protect what they're leaving their daughters after they themselves die. The trust will determine "how you want money distributed and when you want it to be distributed," Harris said.

Finally, women have to be vigilant in protecting their own personal net worth, particularly as the average age at which people get married continues to rise. Several legal documents — such as prenuptial agreements for engaged women and buy-sell agreements for female business owners — can help.

Also, women should be sure to update beneficiary information regularly, as life circumstances change.

"These are strategies that I find women who are empowered financially do to protect themselves," she said.

— By CNBC's Kenneth Kiesnoski

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