Planning for Your Kids When You Die Is for the Rich

Me and Paul Sullivan at The New York Times, we're like brothers from another mother. He has the same thoughts about leaving millions to his toddler daughter that I did. Says Paul:

Deciding how to handle the money we will give to our child when we die was the easiest part of the legacy planning my wife and I did. We contacted a trust-and-estate lawyer and drew up a plan with all the proper trusts in place. We looped in our financial adviser and our insurance broker. We made sure our beneficiary designations forms were filled out properly. And most important, we picked a guardian for our daughter.

Well, I agree in some respects. It's not entirely easy. It's so hard to find a decent trust-and-estate lawyer anymore. Not as hard as it is to find a good butler (I'm not sure they even make those anymore), but all the ones I've come across are atrocious. And maids, well, forget it.


It can be a twisted pleasure to read the Times money pages for us broke writer folk, the same way you do the incredibly precious wedding announcements. To either pretend you're among the affluent, or to heap scorn on them. And with passages like this, how can you not?

Since this is a we, not a me, essay, I asked my wife to think about what she wanted our daughter to inherit beyond whatever money I don’t blow on golf and boating and she on horses and trips to visit grandchildren in our long-off retirements.

Man I wish I had such a dilemma! And by "blow on horses," does he actually mean buying horses, not just paying to ride them? Or betting on them? That I could relate to. I sincerely don't know. Oh, the wealthy.

But the class warfare thing can get a bit old. I think I'm going to dwell on the positive and find some common ground. On this we can most certainly agree: 

For me, the most important thing to give our daughter is an understanding that where she is growing up is a very nice place but it is not representative of America ... I want to impart to our daughter that she is fortunate to have these opportunities but that she needs to have some perspective on them. That will be no small challenge, given how much youngsters judge themselves in relation to their peers: upper-middle-class offspring look poor compared with the billionaire’s children.

I would add that maybe it's best if his daughter doesn't star in a remake of The Parent Trap or in a reality show with her rich best friend. Because as we know those things for rich girls lead straight down the path to rehab row.

But he loses me again here:

So far, she seems as bright as the next toddler, but what makes her stand out to us is her finely calibrated palette: no plain toddler food for her -- she eats what we eat and it had better be seasoned perfectly. We joke that she may become a chef or a food critic.

What? Seriously? She just eats your fancy grown-up food? She doesn't throw it in your face and demand mac and cheese even though you worked on it all night? I may have to hate you after all.

Do you have a trust-fund for your kids yet? A will?


Image via Flickr/DwayneMadden

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