How Much Inheritance Should You Leave Your Kids?

How Much Inheritance Should You Leave Your Kids?
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When it comes to inheritance, the common wisdom is that when parents pass on, whatever they have goes to their children. Should this always be the case though?

Photo by Larry Jacobsen.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet has famously stated that 99 per cent of his wealth will be donated to charity either within his life or by his death. As finance blog One Cent at a Time points out, if you have a sizeable amount of money saved up by the end of your life, giving 100 per cent of it to your kids can skew their perception of money:

I don’t want them to grow up spoiled. I’m not rich enough for my children to afford services for the super-rich or swanky lifestyles in Meadow Lane, the so-called “Billionaires Lane” in the Hamptons. But I also know that if I left them my fortune, they would not appreciate the value of money.

The most important legacy that we can ultimately leave them is not money but the life lessons that we have imparted to them that will enable them to live their lives well.

Obviously (and unfortunately), not everyone will have enough at the end of their lives to afford such a decision, but when it comes to long-term financial planning, what’s your goal? Do you have a set amount of money you’d like to leave for your children? Or do you just want them to find their own way?

Reasons Why I’ll Not Leave My Fortunes to My Kids [One Cent at a Time]


  • One percent of $1 billion is more than the overwhelming majority of the planet will ever make in their lifetime and indeed enough to live a comfortable lifestyle without ever working.

  • Heh, My son makes more in a week than I made at the same age in a year, more or less, he makes more money now than God, and he doesn’t need to break a sweat..! So basically we’re leaving him the kick in the pants that forced him to work a bit harder in school, and the house..! We plan on spending every last cent we can scrape together on travel and whores…. I mean crap we don’t need… 🙂 When he gets the house, he’ll probably rent it out and make even more money… 🙂

  • I don’t want them to grow up spoiled. I’m not rich enough for my children to afford services for the super-rich or swanky lifestyles in Meadow Lane, the so-called “Billionaires Lane” in the Hamptons. But I also know that if I left them my fortune, they would not appreciate the value of money.

    Ok, so Warren Buffet has a net worth of 58.5 Billion Dollars, so after his death if everything was sold and 99% of ALL the money was donated to charity, that still leaves 585 Million Dollars.

    Buffet has 3 children, so that works out to 195 Million Dollars each.

    Yes Warren, I’m sure that they would be very down to earth people and really appreciate the value of a dollar by you leaving them that sort of dosh.

    • He actually said more than 99% of his money would be given to charity. He has also stated, “You should leave your children enough money that they can do anything they want, but not so much that they can do nothing.”

    • Also, that quote was from the blog not from Buffett. Buffett is clearly able to afford the Hampton’s lifestyle (though chooses to live in his old family home which personally I don’t think is more a neutral act rather than some sign of virtue).

  • People leave their kids money when they die? Not from my experience. When my biological father died, he left my brother and I a pissy $100 each, which his de facto kept anyway (along with everything else). Uh, not that I’m bitter about it or anything. >_> *grumble grumble*

    But yeah, as people have already pointed out, even 1% of that guys fortune could spoil his kids. Though personally I think he should concentrate on not spoiling them while they’re growing up so that when the inevitable happens they’ve already got the necessary skills required to not blow all that money (no matter how little it may be compared to his overall worth).

    • Just to clarify, Warren Buffett is in his 80’s, and all his “kids” are in their mid to late 50’s.

      But still, NO-ONE on the face of this earth deserves or needs that kind of money.

    • You think that’s bad? My fathers wife left him, he borrowed $100,000 off my grandparents to buy out her half of the property, and then ended up dying. His only will left everything to myself and my sister, but was written before they were married. She had it annulled (easily) and got everything, we literally got absolutely nothing, and because my grandparents had loaned their son CASH, they never got that back either.

      I honestly don’t think I could walk past her in the street without kicking her head in. She didn’t even pay for the funeral, my grandparents did.

  • With my parents having one house fully paid off and now have a 2nd house for holidays, retirement and being only 50yrs old I’m they can knock off most of their remaining debt before death even with out selling their first home and taking many holidays as they plan to their should be plenty left over but I’m pretty sure the four of us kids will use it to buy/pay off a house. No point wasting it got retirement for that lol

  • I don’t plan to leave an inheritance. I will have raised my children; their adulthood is up to them. My retirement money is for my wife and I to experience things.

    Unless I know the exact date of our deaths it will be difficult to plan to spend every single dollar so in the event of some unspent funds, I suppose I’ll leave it to my children or split it between them and some very efficient and productive charity such as the ones highligthed by the website

      • Wtf, you’re criticising him for actually wanting to use his retirement money for, you know, his retirement? I’m a Gen Y but I plan on doing the exact same thing when I retire. I fully intend on spending every dollar I’ve earned, and only leaving my kids some if I happen to die before I spend it all.

      • I will have raised my kids and raised my kids well. That’s me giving.

        Also, considering we are talking about MY money, I don’t really consider it taking.

        Considering that my opinion on this is based on the fact that as a young adult I don’t want my parents to leave me an inheritence because I want them to look after themselves and live a good life, you’re also basically completely wrongheaded. It’s not about taking, it’s about giving. It’s about giving my parents the thanks and acknowledgement that they sacrificed to get me to adulthood. Now it’s my turn. I don’t want to take their retirement from them.

        Though it is basically meaningless crap peddled by morons, if you must knowI’m on the cusp of Gen X/Gen Y.

        I must be an ‘entitled gen Y brat’.

        Critique me. Make a case for why parents have a responsibility to leave an inheritence. I’d love to hear it. Change my mind. I dare you. Don’t come at me with those weak lines though brah.

  • If you die when you’re 75 your kids will probably be in their 50s.

    If they’ve lived with a sense of entitlement because they might, someday, inherit your money when they hit 55, you need to think seriously about how you raised them.

    Personally, I have no kids, but plan to leave a moderately substantial inheritance to my nephews & nieces. Getting a start in life is tough these days.

    I will also undoubtedly leave something to charity, but with the number of charities that try to guilt-trip me I’m going to be very selective about that. (Many charities seem to get your name from another charity’s mailing list then try to guilt you into giving *them* money.)

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