In Focus: Intergenerational Wealth  

How to 'do no harm' when transferring wealth


How prepared are younger people to become the next generation of wealth owners?

And how can wealth be passed down in a way that does no harm to the beneficiary?

Perhaps the UK could learn lessons from the US, where the great wealth transfer has already started to get under way. David Handler, partner in trusts and estates at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, said it was important to educate young people. 

He told FTAdviser's intern Saksha Menezes: "Educate them about the markets, about stocks and mutual funds. They will not invest in what they do not understand.

"And treat the young person as they would any other client."

Issues that UK advisers are starting to see have already become apparent in the US, such as problems over whether money has been set into trust.

Handler explained: "It is one thing to come into cash - another thing entirely to be a beneficiary of a trust. Young people need to understand what it is and how this works."

Again, this comes down to education. "Clients need to be educating their children about wealth. They should not be surprised on their 21st or 30th birthday and find out they have come into wealth. 

"They need to be educated and have expectations set about how money works and how to make it last. A young person may have never borne the expenses of life, such as a mortgage or food bills. They will need to know how to create a budget."

He added: "99.9 per cent of my clients want their children to work, not just sit around on a beach."

Among the top tips he tells clients is to sit down and discuss the plans for the family wealth, such as what charitable plans there may be or how they would like the wealth to be split on the benefactors' death.

"Raise them right to be responsible and good people. If you don't want to spoil them with a lot of money, then raise them right", Handler added.

Moreover, he said it was important not to "pervert" the incentives to inheritance, such as dictating the terms of their child's pre-nup or forcing young people to work for the family business rather than following their own path."

"You can overplan", he added.

To listen to the full Fireside Chat, click on the image above.