I’d like to get everyone’s thoughts on handing over one’s wealth to their children and grandchildren after passing away. The practice has infuriated me for as long as I can remember—mostly because:
1) I am not one of those children or grandchildren,
2) The wacked-out principles behind such gifts, and
3) What often happens to the money and the recipients.
All four of my grandparents as well as my father had passed away before I was out of middle school. I don’t remember receiving any inheritance, and I didn’t care about one then or now. I’m sure that if someone in my family died and bequeathed a substantial amount of money to me, I would graciously accept it and do my best to put that money to work and not blow it on stupid stuff. But that still doesn’t make it the best use of their funds and I’ll be darned if I do the same with mine.
Of course, someone’s wealth is theirs to spend however the heck they want to spend it before and after death. I just can’t understand why people feel the need to give money to children who have done absolutely nothing to deserve it. Yes, you heard me. I don’t believe anyone deserves to inherit anything. It is a gift that someone may choose to give to their children, or they may find some place to give it that is even more wise and beneficial.
Let’s say I die when I’m old and have an estate worth millions of dollars:
1) What service have my children provided that justifies such a substantial compensation? If anything, I think children should pay their parents to reimburse them for all of the time and hours spent teaching them, cleaning poo, and keeping them alive.
2) What special needs do they have that justify hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars? It would be one thing if they had a major medical condition that could be cured with a sizeable inheritance. But if this were the case, I’d likely use the money for that purpose before dying and not after.
I can hardly believe that my children need the funds from my estate more than starving people somewhere else in the world. In all likelihood, my kids will grow up in middle-class neighborhoods, go to college, stay out of debt, and be able to provide for themselves. Hopefully they will listen to what I have to say about becoming wealthy, but if not, I have no reason to believe they will not be at least middle class, (assuming there still is one in 20-30 years).
So what on earth would make me believe that these privileged, self-supporting, and independent sons and daughters of mine need money more than people whose homes were destroyed by tsunamis through no fault of their own? Or breadwinners in less-advantaged countries who could finally escape the shackles of poverty by starting a small business with the help of a micro-loan?
But instead, people must think, “I love my kids. I want to give them stuff. When I die, I’m going to hand over to them on a silver platter everything that I, in comparison, have had to scratch, scrimp, save, and toil for my entire life.” Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.
I’ve had to work for every dollar I’ve earned—why should they be any different? The idea of handouts is appalling. Million-dollar handouts? Gag me with a spoon.
3) Will they even know what to do with it? Do I even need to go into what happens the vast majority of times when the 2nd and 3rd generation receive money earned by the 1st generation? It gets blown and the kids come out rotten. I’ve seen it among my contacts, and there are several books and plenty of research on the subject.
For these reasons, I might give them a nice bonus or something when I kick the bucket, like a down payment on a house. But even then I’d make it conditional, according to the rules of my living trust, upon at least the following:
A) Their mortgage payment is 1/3rd of their income or less,
B) They have no consumer credit card debt, and
C) They have not willfully misspelled any of their children’s names on purpose, just to be different (another pet peeve of mine).
But any wealth I still have at that time, provided I didn’t spend it all on $1000/pill prescription drugs, is going to micro-loans or some other place where at least 90% of donated funds will go to recipients who really need it.