Hiding the Inheritance Was a Mistake

Heather has two kids inheriting about $1 million split between them. They don't know they're receiving the money. They're 21 and 18. Dave thinks Heather made a mistake in not telling them about the money.

QUESTION: Heather in Los Angeles has two kids inheriting about $1 million split between them. They don’t know they’re receiving the money, and Heather has known for a while. They’re 21 and 18, and the oldest one is about to graduate from college. The 18-year-old is going to college this year. Dave thinks Heather made a mistake in not telling them about the money.

ANSWER: I think you’re behind the curve. By them not knowing this, you have run the risk of them becoming lotto winners instead of growing up in the knowledge and the responsibility of this. Now we’ve got to try to send them through a personal responsibility cram course and a maturity cram course and say, “All right, here’s the deal. Money of this type is not a party fund. It is a tremendous responsibility. This is not something for you to use selfishly. It’s for you to use in such a way that you honor the person who left the inheritance. You blowing all of this and being immature and acting like you’re 4 years old with it is not honoring to the person who left it to you. You have a tremendous responsibility to that heritage. You have a responsibility before God to handle His money well. This is His. You need to view this as if you were hired by someone else to manage the money for them.”

These are both hard working and responsible kids, so tap into that. I understand your concern, but the risk you have run is that now you’ve got to play catch up. Let’s juxtapose this for teaching purposes. If they had been raised wealthy kids, they would’ve been around the handling of money their whole lives. By that I mean the handling of money in a wealthy family that’s functional is an act of privilege. It’s not an act of “Woohoo!”

My advice to them would be to get them through Financial Peace University as soon as possible. They’ve got to really take a mature angle on this and really think investments and charity and very little self-consumption with this money.