If you’re thinking of passing your wealth down to your children because you love them, think again. Some of the most financially successful people in the world deny their children the bulk of their inheritance as a way to build character, and you can, too.
What do Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Nigella Lawson, Michael Bloomberg and Laurene Powell Jobs have in common? Parenting skills. They’ve all refused to give the bulk of their fortunes to their children. As Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan put it in a Facebook post addressed to their daughter when she was born: “We will do our part to make this happen, not only because we love you, but also because we have a moral responsibility to all children in the next generation.”
Now that’s love. Not convinced? How about this…
Life is short and boring
You’ve worked your entire life, through the long hours, the difficult bosses, the harassment, the bullying, the failures, and the stress. And your children will never know the tedium of work before the internet existed. You’ve worked hard and that money is yours. Now you can finally spend it on things that you enjoy, like travel or fine dining.
And how often is spending money a teachable moment? As a lesson in what a lifetime of frugality can pay for, show your kids the new hot tub you splurged on, then gravely announce: “the less we work for something the less we seem to value it” like you’re Warren Buffet. If your kids ask you questions, walk away. (You’re a gnomic sage now—they’ll get the hint).
Your kids will waste the money anyway
One in three Americans will blow through their inheritance within two years of receiving it (it’s not known how much of that is spent on in-game Fortnite purchases). If your kids try to complain that they need help paying their bills, covering their healthcare costs or growing their college funds, just repeat the last sentence and tell them it’s science.
Improve your kids values, or whatever
Young folks on Twitter like to talk about the generational “wealth transfer gap” but that’s just millennial code for “my parents aren’t dead yet.” As a parent, you can neutralize this ghoulish talk by communicating early that you’re leaving nothing behind. The less they can talk about a potential windfall, the more likely they will be productive members of society. Feel free to give it all away to charity, if that helps drive the point home.
As millionaire baby boomer Sting stated so eloquently to the Daily Mail :