Parents should leave "enough money to your kids so they can do anything, but not enough so they can do nothing.” --Warren Buffett
What is most on the mind of America's ultra-wealthy investor? Their children, according to a new wealth level study of $25 Million Plus households conducted by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner.
While six-in-ten ultra-wealthy respondents said that maintaining their current financial position is a primary personal concern, significantly more (83 percent) said their children and grandchildren’s well-being is much more of a priority, followed by raising their children to be financially responsible (79 percent) and not allowing their wealth to be detrimental to their children’s work ethic or educational or career plans (70 percent).
For these parents, especially, the case of North Texas teenager Ethan Couch is a nightmarish cautionary tale. In 2013, Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation after his attorney successfully argued that the youth, who had killed four pedestrians and injured 11 in a drunk driving accident, was unable to understand the consequences of his actions because of his family’s wealth. The term used to describe his condition was “affluenza.”
Nearly two-thirds of $25 Million Plus respondents (65 percent) said they are cognizant of the legacy they leave for their children and grandchildren. At the foundation of this legacy is a respect for hard work and appreciation of fiscal responsibility. Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest man in America and the fourth richest in the world, once said that parents should leave "enough money to your kids so they can do anything, but not enough so they can do nothing.”
Among the other primary personal concerns cited by ultra-wealthy respondents were having someone to care for them in their old age (56 percent), using their money to help others (51 percent) and their reputation among business colleagues and associates (37 percent). Across age groups, the latter concern was most important to $25 Million Plus respondents under the age of 55 (44 percent)
Not surprisingly, concern for the well-being of their children and grandchildren is heightened among ultra-wealthy Baby Boomers ages 56-65 (91 percent) and seniors 66 and up (88 percent).
Boomers, likewise, are most likely to cite as a personal concern raising financially responsible children (87 percent).
They, too, are most concerned about maintaining their current financial position (71 percent) and having someone to care for them in their old age (79 percent) and using their wealth to help others (66 percent).
Across wealth levels, the wealthiest investors (with a net worth of at least $125 million NIPR) are less concerned with these issues than their less wealthy counterparts. For example, 67 percent of respondents with a net worth between $25 million and $49.9 million said they are concerned about maintaining their financial position compared to less than half (47 percent) of $125 million households.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.