Many were surprised when pop legend Sting, the one time one-third of the band The Police, announced his estate, worth more than $300 million, wouldn’t be left to his children. For one thing, he explained, he’s spending it. All of it. And perhaps more importantly, he said his wealth would be “albatrosses around their necks”. He has six children. If they were raised the way he was, it’s likely those six children of varying ages aren’t phased at all by realizing they won’t be inheriting millions of dollars. Sting was raised in a typical middle class family with his father supporting them with a job at a shipyard. He’s wealthy, but he wants his kids to earn their own wealth.
This may surprise you, but Sting’s not alone.
One of the wealthiest investors in the world, Warren Buffet, has already said he would be donating 99 percent of his wealth to charity. The Gates Foundation will be receiving an impressive 83 percent of that wealth. He’s made one poignant statement for his reasons (and only one): “I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.” In Buffet’s world, that “just enough” could be quite impressive, but his children won’t know that until the trusts are unveiled and his will is read.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg couldn’t control how many soft drinks citizens in his city consumed, but he can control how his $20 billion is distributed at the time of his death. For him, it’s simple, his net worth, “nearly all of it”, will be left to The Giving Pledge. He has two daughters who will be receiving something, but it’s not known – even by them – what that “something” is.
Who knew that the guy with heavy makeup, 8 inch boots, a tongue that’s probably nearly as long and an appearance that had your mother concerned for your spiritual health would be giving savvy financial advice years later? Gene Simmons, bassist and lead singer of KISS, takes pride in all that he’s accomplished. He’s grounded and his two children show extraordinarily wise degrees of responsible behavior. He told CNBC that he would indeed be leaving something to his two now-adult children, but that he also believes that “every year, they should be forced to get up out of bed and go out and work and make their own way.” He’s done a good job because both are finding great success in their own careers.
If you’re not familiar with the name Gina Rinehart, she’s considered the wealthiest woman in Australia. Interestingly enough, she inherited her wealth from her father though she’s cutting her children out of her will entirely. Turns out, her four children were named in their grandfather’s estate, but their mother has filed court documents to change that, citing her belief that they are unfit to manage the family fortune.
Regardless of how you want your life’s work to look like after you’re gone, proper estate planning is an important element of seeing it through. Whether you have the kind of wealth that would make Bill Gates envious or if you have a hard-earned nest egg that should see you through your retirement, putting those documents in place ensure what’s left goes exactly where you want it to.