Ask parents why they work so hard, and very often you will hear the answer, “So that my children will get a good inheritance.” Indeed, apart from personal ambitions, most folks hope to leave behind a cushion for their children to minimize the possibility of their offspring suffering economic hardships.
But have you ever wondered if leaving your child a whole pile of money is really the best thing? If you are fortunate enough to leave an inheritance big enough so that your child will never have to work, ask yourself if this is really the best lesson you can teach, and if it will ultimately make him happy. Sometimes, having too much money can be just as devastating as having too little.
Indeed, there is a growing trend among the ultra-wealthy to leave children enough resources to be comfortable, but not enough to eliminate the need to work entirely. This is because there are advantages to working, apart from the paycheck. Learning how to manage resources, both inherited funds and paychecks, is an important skill.
For this reason, the best kind of inheritance to leave children is the ability to understand and manage money. Teach them to work for money, rather than expecting to get it handed to them every time they ask. Encourage them to give charity and to save some of their money rather than spending it as soon as they receive it. Explain to them the importance of work ethics and why it’s so important to have a job rather than expecting handouts.
In this way, even if you can’t leave your children a fortune in your will, you can bequeath an even more valuable gift. The financial education they receive will make it more likely for them to lead comfortable and worthwhile lives.
Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know how you teach your children about finance. If you want tips on how to begin instilling positive financial habits in your children, read my blog: Profile-Financial.com/habits
Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, is the director of Profile Investment Services, Ltd. www.profile-financial.com. He is a licensed financial professional both in the U.S. and Israel. Call (02) 624-2788 for a consultation on how to set up your American assets to meet your financial goals. Securities offered through Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC, MSRB, FSI. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not those of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates. Neither PRG nor its affiliates give tax or legal advice.
Published March 11, 2012. Updated June 2022