How much thought have you given to what you are going to leave your heirs and how? It is an important question. It was one that the wisest man that ever lived grieved over. At the end of his life when he had accumulated more wealth than thought possible at the time, Solomon said:
I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2: 18-19, NIV)
Not an encouraging picture from one who should have known better. So what are the most common ways your heirs can be destroyed after you die or even while you are alive?
1. Make sure that you focus on funding a lifestyle for them.
Whether you do this while you are still alive or at death, the impact will be the same. Find out how much money they will need to fund their lifestyle for life. This way they won’t have to work, and they can just play and become irresponsible.
Note: If you don’t want to fund their lifestyle, think in terms of opportunity. How do you fund opportunities that will give them an edge but will not be enough that they don’t have to work? Help them with a home purchase, a new business venture or their children’s education.
2. Give them enough money so that they can go first class when they travel.
This way they won’t have to hob nob with the working class. Better yet buy them a private jet with a pilot!
Note: If you want them to have a giving spirit that God calls us all to, then you might want them to have to earn each vacation and maybe think about mission trips for some of those vacations.
3. Give them enough money so that they will have lots of friends.
They will feel really great about themselves because so many want to be their friends and hang out with them. You will be able to assure that they are not lonely.
Note: If you don’t want your kids to question the sincerity of their friendships and whether they are really loved for themselves, you might want them to build a self-image based on what they accomplish and how they help others.
4. Give them enough wealth so that they don’t have to work to get a reward.
This way they have a reward every day. They don’t have to spend time trying to earn any recognition.
Note: If you want your children to make the connection between work and reward, you don’t want to give them so much that they miss that connection. If you want them to build a career that has a God given purpose and is a way for them to build self-worth by using and developing their gifts and talents and creating or growing something themselves, then you might want to help them along the way, but not so much that they don’t earn it themselves.
If you truly want to have a lasting impact on future generations that will be shared with their children and will have an impact on society, you might want to share and teach them about giving.
We have found that the number one way of impacting your children with your virtues and values is by sharing your view of giving. Knowing that they have made a difference in the lives of people will profoundly fulfill their lives. It will also teach them about God’s plan for their lives, which is about giving – not receiving. Even though they share in your giving and do not use their own money, they always gain emotional and psychological benefits in sharing any philanthropic projects.
Giving builds character, develops a positive self-image, and provides a real sense of accomplishment. The goal then is to repeat many philanthropic projects with the kids so that it becomes a way of life for them. When they finally receive whatever inheritance you choose to give to them, you will avoid several typical problems created by inherited wealth.
A blessing is as old as the Bible. We can even look to the first book of the Bible to see examples of how father’s blessed their children. Learn how to formally bless your heirs that will help you strengthen family relationships and build a Christian family legacy that lasts.
By Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring
about significant impact for His Kingdom.