Never Leave Kids an Inheritance

Please let me clarify before you start calling me a cold-hearted jerk.  As long as children are still dependents, then I believe parents should do everything in their power to perpetually provide for their spouse and children from the grave—hefty term life insurance and thoughtful savings invested into a good mutual fund (an endowment per se).  Whether the children are 2 years old or 17 years old, that is my firm stance.

However! The average age of death is roughly 75 years old, and parents are typically 20-30 years older than their descendants.  So in this example, the “children” are between 45 to 55 years old.  Suffice it to say, it is fairly disingenuous to call someone who might have grandchildren a “child.”  For that very reason, I wouldn’t give my children anything if I make it into my twilight years.

Yep, I would leave my “children” absolutely nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.  Natta.  Zero.

But what are a few reasons why I would do this?

(1) Proverbs 22:6 | “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  As a result, I do not worry about my future adult children.  I trust them to do well (better than well) because that is what Baxters do—pray hard, love hard, and work hard.  Because of early guidance and early monetary investment, our children will be far more successful than we could have ever imagined them to be.

(2) Actual Children | The amount of actual young children, orphans especially, who could benefit from the death of an old geezer is almost endless.

(3) Other Elderly People | There are so many widows, widowers, and otherwise disabled elderly who could really use a leg-up from a person who knows (or knew) exactly how they feel.

(4) Worthwhile Charities | Do you know who usually leaves big gobs of money for shelters that take care of battered women? Usually old dead people.  What about animal shelters? Again, old dead people. How about full ride academic scholarships? Once again, old dead people.  With all that good going around, why wouldn’t I want to be an awesome dead person too?

What about you? In an ideal world, would you give all your money to your kids?


PS: All of this assumes that I do not have a successful business that my children could potentially become owners of one day. In that case, a succession plan is necessary so that that transition is a smooth one and not a train wreck.  However, since successful businesses are statistically improbable, I am assuming I just have a regular job that I have retired from.

  1. I can see the harm in trust-fund babies. And I read somewhere that the inheritance of wealthy generations generally only last 3 generations… so the truly long-term success of passing down wealth just isn’t there. I do think that your adult children should be more stable and interested in acquiring things from you that have sentimental value – jewelry, photos, furniture, etc. However, assuming I have tons of money, I would probably leave what I could to my grandchildren in well-managed trusts to ensure their educations are paid for.

    What I struggle with is this statement: “Because of early guidance and early monetary investment, our children will be far more successful than we could have ever imagined them to be.” I really hope that is the case, but that seems extremely idealistic and, depending on the number of children you have, statistically unlikely that they will ALL be more successful than you could ever have imagined.

    • Ashley,
      I said that statement assuming the kids are completely average. I can’t assume they will be awesome or deadbeats because that’s less likely to be true.

      So if we assume the kids are average (but started off adulthood with no debt at all and a career plan), there is no way they wouldn’t be better off than us. They could do things are 20 YO that we couldn’t possibly do until our 30s. And so on and so on.

      • I understand what you mean. I just think making a blanket statement like that isn’t prudent. And maybe I just read “more successful than we could have ever imagined them to be.” as more dramatic than you intended.

  2. I will probably leave my daughter my real estate and some personal family keepsakes. She will get a nice little cash package, but overall, I am probably going to donate the majority of my wealth into sciences.

  3. Lotta truth here. Been telling my parents for a while now that I love them… but I wanted to be financially independent of them as soon as possible. I can’t learn to manage my life sink or swim until I’m on my own, so I started paying as many of my bills as I could at 15 and was paying all of them by the time I was 18. Mom and Pop DID help out when cars got wrecked, but even eventually on that note, when I wrecked the Mustang, I told them that I would just do without until I left for the Army and buy a car then. After I had seen the value in taking care of one better. It’s okay to accept help from your parents and family. But You have to cut the umbilical cord eventually, and I preferred sooner rather than later, because I wanted a relationship with my parents that wasn’t negatively affected by money.

  4. Totally agree with this, but the one worry I have is sort of on the flipside: We don’t want our sons to have to worry about supporting US when we’re old. Most of the situations I’ve seen IRL have been either the parents scrimping and saving to leave the “kids” money they then blow, OR adults suffering in their middle age because their elderly parents were crappy money managers and now are hanging around the necks of their grown children like albatrosses. That sounds mean, but what’s mean is letting your grandchildren suffer a lack of parental involvement because those parents are catering to your needs. Jon and I wholeheartedly want to avoid doing that to our boys.

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