Children and Wealth: Important Early Life Lessons

May 14, 2012

Children and Wealth: Important Early Life Lessons

Wealth can be a mixed blessing that creates great opportunity as well as weighty responsibility, especially for children. As a parent, grandparent, or relative, we hope to pass on what we have learned about managing and preserving wealth to the younger generation. However, we want the family legacy to be about more than astute money management; we want it to reflect your personal values, which may include a social conscience and philanthropic ideals.

How do we combine financial knowledge and charitable intent in our wealth management lessons? Let’s consider:

Shared Concerns

Multi-billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have vowed to leave the majority of their fortunes to charity, reasoning that a large inheritance would do their children more harm than good. Many wealthy families across America share these concerns. To counter these and other potentially negative effects of wealth, many parents are committed to educating children about finances from an early age. Studies show that marketers start targeting children as early as age two. The sooner we start talking about money, the better. Explain the meaning and purpose of employment, the importance of managing credit and paying bills, and the best way to handle cash through banks and ATMs. Let children practice what they learn about earning, saving, spending, and giving money through their own experiences with allowances and after-school jobs. As children mature, their financial education should become more rigorous. Learning how to balance a checkbook, create a budget, respect the role of credit and debt, and develop strategies for funding important goals such as a college education help teens make the important transition from child to adult. While parents generally are competent educators about financial matters and are a child's most important role models, our children can use some support.

Set a Charitable Example

If we want to ensure future generations of volunteers and donors, we must teach our children how to give of their time, skills, and money. Adult family members set the example by pursuing their own philanthropic and volunteer activities, or by encouraging the whole family to get involved in charitable activities based around a shared interest, such as the outdoors, sports, or religion.

Ensure Your Legacy through Incentive Planning

Wealth holders often worry that the values they pass on to heirs during our lifetime will be lost once we are gone. Therefore, creating testamentary trusts that allow us to reward our children’s desired behaviors or discourage undesirable activities are a meaningful addition to an estate plan. For instance, a trust may offer educational support for heirs who pursue a specific field of study or attend a particular institution. A trust may promote family values by providing income support to heirs who choose to stay at home to raise children or who foster or adopt children in need. Alternatively, a trust can also withhold benefits from heirs convicted of a crime or who fail conditional drug or alcohol testing. Financial advisors play an important role in the creation and success of a legacy by helping us articulate the values, beliefs and priorities we want to perpetuate and the methods to achieve our goals. Working together, we can offer meaningful relationships that go beyond a financial inheritance. If you’d like to learn more, please contact Angel Chavez, CIMA® at 415-984-6008   Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, it’s affiliates and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice.  This material was not intended or written to be used for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. Clients should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for matters involving trust and estate planning and other legal matters. The author(s) and/or publication are neither employees of nor affiliated with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“MSSB”). By providing this third party publication, we are not implying an affiliation, sponsorship, endorsement, approval, investigation, verification or monitoring by MSSB of any information contained in the publication. The opinions expressed by the authors are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of MSSB.  The information and data in the article or publication has been obtained from sources outside of MSSB and MSSB makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of information or data from sources outside of MSSB. Neither the information provided nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation by MSSB with respect to the purchase or sale of any security, investment, strategy or product that may be mentioned. Article written by McGraw Hill and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Financial Advisor Angel Chavez, CIMA® Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.

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