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June 08, 2021

Study: wealthy parents worried kids will screw up family fortune

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Trust me, I can make it through this entire post without mentioning Paris Hilton. I really can. It’ll be easier than, wait, damnit …

When a friend sent me this story suggesting wealthy parents are growing increasingly concerned their kids might screw up the family fortune, I immediately thought of the infamous video clip of Nicole Richie from a few years back.

Sitting courtside at a Lakers game, Nicole drops this beauty while being interviewed by a sideline reporter. I mean, what is Lionel supposed to say to that? How many times does he have to sing All Night Long  to make people forget his daughter's IQ is probably somewhere in the 40s?

Regardless, I thought the idea of the Star story was pretty interesting: wealthy people, many of which having carved out their own prominent status and social identity, will be tied to the decisions of their offspring for all eternity. That’s got to be some kind of burden, no?

Sure, it’s a problem most of us can’t relate to. And sure, calling “How can I get my moron son to not screw up his $40-million birthright?” a problem might be a bit much, but I think it’s pretty remarkable that we’ve now been able to measure the insecurities of the rich.

According to a Bank of Montreal study, nearly a quarter of wealthy parents are “very concerned” about their kids’ ability to manage their estate. About 40% of the census’ respondents also said they were concerned their children would blow all the family cash with “wasteful spending.”

Of course, you’d think most parents with hefty inheritances would set up a trust fund, allowing their fortunes to be paid out at the discretion of a faithful confidant should they pass away. But what the Star reports is a “striking” number of the uneasy affluent (80% or so) have already drafted up wills that negate the trust fund process.

What I find most interesting is that, while there are no certainties to an inherited likeness – for every kid who holds up the family name (see: Griffey Jr., Ken), there might be another whom the rich and famous won’t exactly be bragging about around the country club buffet line (see: Mulroney, Ben) – a tiny cottage industry has actually sprouted from the issue.

BMO chief operating officer Jean Blacklock tells the Star that more high-roller clients than ever are asking the bank to teach their kids about money, and there are even books out now with titles like, “Preparing Heirs: Five Steps to a Successful Transition of Family Wealth and Values.”

So maybe being filthy rich isn’t that great, after all.

Ahhh, it probably is.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...