I Don’t Want to Leave My Kids Millions of Dollars… Does That Make Me A Bad Person?
Each day, I have the privilege to work with people that I care about. We consider ourselves our clients’ “Personal CFO,” but more importantly we consider them personal friends.
Sometimes conversations about money can get a little messy. When people talk about money, especially when they are talking about a lot of it and how it will be distributed to their heirs, it’s inevitable that emotions rise to the surface.
Many of my conversations center around people who are in or approaching retirement. We are fortunate to help hard-working families, many of whom started out with very little to their name. As is the case with many success stories, it begins with scraping together funds just to pay the mortgage or put food on the table. These types of experiences instill a strong sense of value in the money, which is the reason that many of our clients are in the successful financial position they are today.
A conversation that has come up often as of late is regarding clients that have more than enough assets to fund their lifestyle (and likely their children’s children). Too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing and can sometimes lead to friction. These discussions can get emotional because of the instilled sense of values they have learned by getting to this point in their lives. More often than you would expect, affluent individuals from similar backgrounds do NOT want to leave their children millions of dollars. Clients often question themselves and say things like “Is that wrong of us?” and “Does that make us bad people?” The simple answer is no – of course that doesn’t make you a bad person. The principles people develop through experience and carry on through their life is what puts them in the fortunate position they are today. The intention is often to reward their children for their diligence and discipline – not by croaking and stroking a check.
The more complex answer is that everyone’s response to money is different. We have seen money tear families apart, but we have also seen it bring them together. Most families want what’s best for the next generation and love their families beyond measure, so much, in fact, that they do not want money to come between them. In this scenario, our objective is to formulate a game plan – instead of maximizing the value of a client’s assets for the end of their life, let’s use the assets as a tool to MAXIMIZE YOUR LIFE WHILE YOU ARE ALIVE. To quote Kipling, “Fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds of distance run.” Take the whole family on a “trip of a lifetime” to Italy. Spend the winter in Florida and invite the children and grandchildren. Travel comfortably – fly first class. Do what brings your inner circle joy. We always say that a zebra does not change their stripes, and we know that it is difficult for people to learn knew spending habits, but it is the answer to the question “if I’m not going to pass it to my kids, what do I do with all of it?”
Let me be clear, this is not a manifesto to stop saving (actually, quite the opposite for those who want this lifestyle later in life), but it is a call to start doing the things that you love. Too many times have we seen circumstances change and our clients don’t get to do what they intended. Prepare for the now as well as the future. Things change quickly and you can’t get those moments back with the people you love.
Enjoy it. You’ve earned it.
Any opinions are those of author and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected.