Is Leaving Your Kids a Fortune a Good Thing?


Why do you want to build up a good level of savings? If you asked a number of people this question I guess that a few of them would say that they want to set their children up for life. After all, isn’t that the most logical answer to the question?

This sounds like a worthy ideal but is it a good thing to do? Simon Cowell is one celebrity who has stated that he intends to leave his fortune to a charity instead of giving it to his children, as he doesn’t believe on passing on huge sums of money from one generation to another. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Jackie Chan are other wealthy people who don’t intend to leave a fortune for their offspring. So is this a good thing or not?

Make Them Stand on Their Own Two Feet 

Perhaps the most important point of all is that giving your kids a big sum of money makes life really easy for them right away. If they grow up knowing that they are going to inherit a lot of cash then they might not have the same desire to stand on their own two feet and find their own way in life. On the other hand, if they need to earn their way in life then this is a great way for them to step out from their parent’s shadow and be their own person. It isn’t often that I quote Jackie Chan but the martial arts star got it bang on when he said of his son, “If he is capable, he can make his own money. If he is not, then he will just be wasting my money”.  Well said Jackie.

Let Them Appreciate the Value of Money

My parents fed and clothed me for a good number of years, as well as giving me a place to stay and sending me through school for longer than I would have cared to have gone. However, they never spoiled me by giving me big sums of money or making it clear that I could buy anything I wanted. This is a large part of the reason that I now appreciate the value of money. Giving a youngster a lot of cash to play around with is a recipe for disaster in many cases. I’m sure that you can think of a number of cases of rich kids who have been in the news in recent years for running into problems. People have even started talking about affluenza as being a type of condition which makes it difficult for spoiled rich kids to know the difference between right and wrong. We all need to appreciate the value of money at some point and the younger the better.

Let Them Grow and Gain Confidence

I can only imagine what it feels like to be left a fortune by your parents and it is something I would never want to find out. I expect that rich kids who inherit a lot of money tend to suffer from low self esteem because they know that they haven’t earned a penny in their lives. I would much rather imagine my daughter finding her way in life and feeling good about making her own money. I’m sure that she would feel a lot better about herself in this type of situation. In case she ever reads this I should point out that I don’t have a fortune to leave her anyway.

Would you leave a fortune for your children, spend it, give it away to charity or do something else with it?

14 Responses to Is Leaving Your Kids a Fortune a Good Thing?

  1. I think your expectations about rich children feeling low self-esteem because they haven’t earned anything would be exceedingly rare.

    I know (based on my observations) that they almost always have a view that the middle-class and poor are underneath and vastly inferior them. They are the ones who feel entitlements about daddy/mommy’s wealth. This is why rich children have “affluenza” because their parents ARE able to successfully litigate their children out of even the most heinous crimes.

    They are the ones who fall hardest if everything is taken away.

    • Robert Bell says:

      That’s an interesting point of view, TSAC. It looks like we have all come across different types of people in this situation, as Laurie’s comments suggest that self esteem can be a problem for children who are given or left a lot of money

  2. Leaving your children money with the intention of them being able to sit back relax and skate through life on your boot straps is a terrible idea. This is why I like my wife and I’s whole life insurance fund. As Whole Life Insurance is part life insurance and part retirement plan we can feel good about our money growing at a steady rate while we are alive but also know we have a set amount our children will receive no matter what. Because a large amount of our money goes towards this account our children will not grow up with the stigma of being rich but once when we do pass they won’t have to worry about going broke ever again.

  3. Kathy says:

    It depends on how much and how old. How much do I have available to leave them, and how old are they when I die. People in the Bill Gates/Warren Buffet realm of wealth can leave most of their wealth to charity and still give their kids a substantial inheritance. And if the beneficiaries are adults it is quite possible that an inheritance would vastly help them in the purchase of a home, education for their children or some other worthwhile purpose. If the heir is still a child, a trust can be set up to provide necessities for them without them having access to the total sum to spend foolishly. But I think the main thing is how the heirs are being raised their whole life. If parents are raising their kids like Paris Hilton, then those kids will have the entitlement mentality and will probably blow through any amount of inheritance and end up with nothing to show for it. However, if they are being raised by parents who are responsible and set the example of work, thrift,charity and responsibility then the kids will probably use the bequest in an entirely responsible way.

    • Robert Bell says:

      Great comments Kathy. I think it probably all boils down to the fact that every case is different. You might not want to leave your children money now but you might change your mind in a few years time for any one of a number of reasons

  4. SavvyJames says:

    I would not leave the entire fortune to my children; however, I would leave them enough to be comfortable, yet not enough to be lazy. Anything that is simply received – including money – vice earned, is appreciated less. As a parent, ideally you create the environment/structure that allows your children to have their own experiences and learn to be successful.

  5. I think I would just let my child (if ever I get to have one) build up his own wealth. Giving him money that he didn’t work hard for is something I don’t want to do and teach him, I want him to stand on his own, so when the time comes that I’m gone, he can do it.

    • Robert Bell says:

      That’s a very important point MSD. Does anyone really want their kid to go through life not knowing whether they are capable of standing on their own two feet

  6. I would like to help my children pay for college and maybe even help them throughout their lives if need be, but leaving them money when I die is not a priority.

  7. Robert, I’ve known several people who’ve been left fortunes, and you’re spot on here. Even though it may be covered up by false arrogance, those who’ve not been taught the value of a hard day’s work and to appreciate and hone their talents and skills, but instead, are just given a load of cash, do indeed suffer from low self-esteem. It’s a sad thing to watch, as they often don’t truly appreciate their worth as a person.

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