At a recent awards ceremony, Jackie Chan told the press that he intends to leave his entire estate to charity, and leave nothing to his son, singer Jaycee Chan.
“If he is capable, he can make his own money. If he is not, then he will just be wasting my money,” Chan said.
This stance actually reflects the feelings held by more than a few wealthy Americans. When U.S. Trust surveyed a group of 457 individuals with investable assets of more than $3 million, only 49 percent said that passing assets to their heirs is very important to them.
Among parents for whom leaving an inheritance is not a high priority, many worry that the promise of a hand-me-down fortune will be a disincentive for their kids to work hard and realize their full potential. In fact, the majority of those participating in the U.S. Trust survey have not revealed the full extent of their wealth to their adult children, and 15% have kept their children completely in the dark when it comes to the family’s wealth.
What if you want to leave your children a substantial inheritance, but you have concerns about the negative effects that inheritance might have? Talk to your estate planning attorney – he or she can walk you through a number of options. For example, one choice is to establish an incentive trust that conditions receipt of assets on your children’s grades, earnings, or behavior.