Childless and wealthy: where will the money go?

In this high-tech era, fortunes can be made very rapidly by very young entrepreneurs. Because they’re young and focused on making their businesses succeed, they are often childless and unmarried.

If they’re as practical as they are talented, they understand that for those with substantial assets, it makes sense to plan how to pass that wealth on after they die. 

But if you’re a single, childless 25-year-old millionaire, who do you pass your wealth to? Parents, perhaps, or a business partner or your college? For many, the best choice is charity.

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation says on its website that it makes “philanthropy more powerful" by simplifying the process. That enables donors to focus on the rest of their lives, rather than managing funds. A spokesperson for the company said there are more young people coming their offices than there were a decade ago. “There’s been a real shift in the dynamic,” she said.

A software engineer said he admires the examples of tech philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. He said that while he doesn’t have billions to donate, he values the feeling of “donating to charity now and not when I'm dead.”

One tax and estate specialist said the worst thing for someone with substantial assets to do is nothing. When they do nothing to prepare for the inevitable by creating a will or estate plan, the wealth will be distributed but not according to the wealth-creator’s desires.

"We say to people: 'If you do nothing, your money will go to the state. Is that what you want?' That's enough to make them want to consider something else," said a financial planner.

If you’re ready to consider estate planning, discuss it with an attorney experienced in these matters.

Source: Reuters, “Estate planning for the young, rich and childless,” Beth Pinsker, June 2, 2014

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