21 September 2005

Surreal Issues.

How do you raise a 13 year old boy with a $400 million trust fund which he will receive in full at age 35? The issue is real, although it seems surreal. This is what happens when an estate plan designed for a child inheriting a couple of million dollars ends up dealing with problems on a scale never suspected. Of course, the trustees and the boy's mother (the late father's second of three wives) disagree.

I've helped wealthy young people plan their estates, but never on this kind of scale. The only context I have for a child like this is the movie "Batman Begins", but there, both parents were conveniently absent, removing much of the family strife from the situation. Is it appropriate to simply let a boy in this situation grow up like any other with an ordinary life? Is it humane to completely seperate benefits for the boy from benefits for his mother? Surely, he won't be so stingy when he comes into the funds for himself. Do extreme cases like this show the limits of an inheritance law ultimately based in a feudal systems that we have otherwise rejected?

It is one thing to come into great wealth after decades of being groomed to that life by your wealthy and succesful parents. This is the experience of most heirs. It is another to come into great wealth in the manner that this boy has, as a result of a premature death.

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