Inheritance from our parents is inevitable. Traits, genes, monetary or even nominal in form. In an ideal world, It’s our filial duty to use what we inherit to better ourselves and not lay it to waste.
Most recently a close friend of mine said that he would leave all that he has to charity. In his opinion, he had already given the best to his child. From a good education, holidays, information about how to get through life and advice about what the world has in store. I couldn’t understand why he would not leave some of his wealth to make his child’s life easier.
Said friend got me thinking whether inheritance, like youth, is wasted on the young. It is said that for one to truly appreciate something, they have to sacrifice and toil. It is the only way for one to truly grasp its value. Therefore, does this sense of responsibility evade those who have inherited wealth? Are such offspring destined to squander it all on pointless worldly items, ultimately destroying a legacy? Or do they improve on what has been bequeathed to them to not only better their lives but also for generations to come? Is that even possible?
Truth is, with inheritance comes a sense of entitlement. The damage this kind of entitlement poses, however, is two-fold. Not only can it bring about a rift within families when those who are left to inherit feel like they deserve more or feel cheated out of “their” money. But it also comes with a large sum of Greed, nonchalance with regard to work, and inevitably decreased productivity. Besides, what’s the point of working for something when you have a ‘post-dated’ pot of gold awaiting?
Case in point: The Vanderbilt family. Cornelius Vanderbilt, a steam railroad entrepreneur in the early 1800s. He was reported to be worth a staggering 100 million USD (adjusted for inflation) according to Forbes. Six generations later and numerous bust investments, all that is left is Vanderbilt University and other philanthropic organizations. Only until one of the current generation Vanderbilts, Anderson Cooper, recently said he was fine with not receiving an inheritance. He did not believe in the concept and called an ‘initiative sucker and curse’.
Of course some may argue that it depends on the heir. A motivated individual could turn an inheritance into an even larger fortune while others may simply squander it. And while this is a very valid argument, it only begs the question, are the best inheritances found in a final will? That is, what values are we instilling in those that we will pass the mantle to in future?
Are we too engrossed in accumulating wealth that we forget to teach our children about the satisfaction of earning an honest day’s work? That when you work diligently at something, the reward of self improvement and self achievement far outweighs the monetary compensation one attains at the end of it.
Perhaps the best route to take would be to plant a seed in our children at a young age by giving them responsibilities that teach them these important traits. The importance of teamwork, kindness, respect, showing up to work, leadership, money and how not to waste it. Some kind of rolling inheritance. Such that when the time comes to redeem a trust fund, the most important values have already been passed on.
Personally I would still leave all I have to my future kids if I’m blessed to have them. However, the most important piece of wealth I would pass on is a good foundation that will lead up to a holistic individual. A foundation that will make for an heir who appreciates hard work, not one who lives without due consideration of the pains it took to get the wealth.
Guest Post by: Lewis Muriuki