Fascinating article about how families deal with the benefits and pitfalls of large sums of inherited wealth. The story about the Norton family in Minnesota is a blueprint on how to handle it successfully and prepare children for their futures. The article also had the following tips which apply to all families:
The Stages of Wealth
Start educating your child early, and keep at it well into adulthood.
AGE 8: Each week put a small allowance — $1 to $5 in dollar bills — into an envelope and hand it to your child. Explain that it’s up to him to decide whether to buy candy or save up for, say, a skateboard. (Don’t undercut the lesson by buying the skateboard yourself.)
AGE 10-12: Invite your child to start attending regular family meetings. Discussion items: How lucky we are to be financially comfortable and what we as a family think is the purpose of our money. Should we take fancy vacations or give to charities? Make it clear your kid’s opinion matters.
AGE 12-14: Make sure your kid knows how to manage a checkbook. And at the family meetings, start making it clear where the family money came from–somebody’s hard work! Start setting future expectations: Tell your child, “You’re going to have to make your own fortune,” or “Someday this will all be yours to preserve.”
AGE 14-16: Don’t be afraid to invite your banker or financial advisor to attend family meetings. It can be easier to have a neutral third party broach delicate topics such as a prenup and how much money you plan to leave your kids.
AGE 15-20: If the message isn’t getting through, initiate steps for a “beneficiary rescue.” Shift assets from normal investment accounts and minors’ trusts into entities that you firmly control, such as family limited partnerships.
AGE 20-25: Make it clear you’d welcome your kid into the family business — as soon as he’s ready. College is a first step, and training at someone else’s company can offer perspective. Remind your child that you love him and have total confidence in his ability to make his own way into the world. He’ll thank you for it when he’s 40.