Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Seizing the Potential of Inherited Wealth

Living Richly 2 Myra Salzer (Founder of The Wealth Conservancy) recently published her book entitled Living Richly: Seizing the Potential of Inherited Wealth (Legacy Press 2010).  The book will be available December 7, 2010.

Living Richly provides guidance to any person coming into a large amount of wealth, emphasizing the idea that personal potential is more important than financial net worth. Salzer discusses how the financial aspects of managing an inheritance are easy; the hard part is the one-of-a-kind challenge faced by each of us, inheritor or not, to achieve our maximum potential. An excerpt from chapter 1 is below:

Much of my professional journey has turned out to be a very personal one. In assisting my inheritor clients through the stages of wealth and working with them toward a position of empowerment, I’ve almost always found myself caught up in the personal dynamics of life, family, passion, history, and vision.

Working with inheritors is not just about the material aspects of money or the mechanical details of a portfolio, a life spending plan, or even a legacy that will outlast a lifespan. On the contrary, it is a surprisingly complex and sometimes agonizingly introspective process. I say “agonizing” with the sort of affection normally reserved for the freakish masochistic set. That’s because, in my life, soul searching is such a painfully beautiful process that it makes me want to burst. Sort of like the enigmatic Ricky Fitts in American Beauty when he said: “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart’s going to cave in.”

In many ways, becoming a competent and inspired inheritor is one of the most painfully beautiful paths toward self-discovery and meaningful accomplishment in the world. My clients have shown me that inherited wealth impacts everything in your life, from relationships and career choices to your ability to grasp your truest essence and find your ultimate path to fulfillment.

These are lofty thoughts born of gritty experience. I have seen firsthand through my clients that wealth is not merely a gift that says, “Now you’ve got it made.” Inheritance has the potential to atrophy your life dreams, lure you into disappointment or disaster, and steer you in exactly the opposite way of anything resembling success. I believe it's partly because there is such a focus in our culture on worth measured in terms of wealth—we express meaning too often through money—that it is hard not to be influenced by these unhealthy myths and habits.

During the past two decades I have met hundreds of inheritors with talents and abilities untapped, like great gifts still in their wrapping paper. In our years of working together, we have learned an important truth: Don’t wait to tear into those gifts and put them to use. No matter how daunting the odds, the list of things to do, the daily pressures, the unpleasant discoveries seemingly at every turn, you do not have to settle for merely OK. You can integrate your net worth with your self-worth. Your wealth can become the vessel for your personal freedom, the medium through which you may accomplish your highest aspirations. That journey begins by tearing down some longstanding myths.

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