Category: Sudden Wealth

What to do if you win the lottery

Lottery winners so often end up broke that it’s become a common story. If you want to break the curse of the lottery winner here are a few simple things you can do.

1. Lottery winners usually go on a spending binge because they now have more money that they ever imagined. This leads them to believe their new-found wealth is endless. It’s not. Kings, potentates, even countries (see Greece) have gone broke; even billionaires can run out of money. The financial object of a lottery winner should be to insure that then never end up broke, even if they live a long time. There are ways of insuring that you won’t run out of money. The first thing you need to do after receiving that check is to get a good, honest financial advisor.

2. Lottery winners attract people like bees to honey. These can be relatives, friends, strangers who heard about the winner’s good fortune. They want gifts (and you want to give them), they expect you to pick up the check. The most dangerous are the people who come to you with “deals” that will make you even richer. One of the best ways to handle this is to refer everyone to your financial advisor; explain that he’s the person who’s handling your finances. That way you are not the one turning anyone away.

3. Lottery winners have tax issues that they never had before. Before accepting that check, it’s a good idea to organize a small team – quarterbacked by your financial advisor – that includes a including a CPA and an attorney.

Buying a lottery ticket is not a wise investment. If you beat astronomical odds and win, you are the same person you were before even though people will suddenly find you incredibly witty, smart and good looking. But if you must buy a ticket – and win – keep these ideas in mind.

What Rich People Need to Know

I ran across an article at Market Watch titled “Ten things rich people know that you don’t.”  It listed the usual things:

  • Start saving early
  • Automate your savings
  • Maximize contributions to 401(k)s
  • Don’t carry credit card debt
  • Live below your means
  • Educate yourself about investing
  • Diversify
  • Hire a qualified financial advisor

All of that is something to take to heart when you’re young and just starting in life.  But what do people who are already rich need to know?

Lots of people get rich without following the rules.  They may start a successful business, enter a highly compensated profession, climb the corporate ladder, win the lottery, become a sports star or inherit a fortune.   Once you are rich, the number one objective for most people is to stay rich.  One very successful financial advisor with just 28 very wealthy clients said

“People don’t come to me to get rich, they come to me to stay rich.”

That’s the role of a good financial advisor.   Their job is to  do more than manage their client’s portfolios, it’s to take care that all of the other boxes are checked off:  to diversify the client portfolio, to educate the client about investing, to see to it that they live within their means.  In many cases they take care of family issues, lifestyle issues; the kinds of things that family offices do.

It’s what we do.  It’s what our clients expect.

Have a wealth maintenance question?   Contact us.

The Biggest Problem for Wealthy Families

I recently visited a house that was once the largest private residence in the country: the “Biltmore” mansion. It was built by the grandson of the founder, “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built the original family fortune. His son doubled the fortune which, in today’s dollars would be worth $300 billion, making the family one of the ten richest in human history. But the heirs managed to run through this immense wealth.

Biltmore

Within just 30 years of the death of the Commodore no member of the Vanderbilt family was among the richest in the US. And 48 years after his death, one of his grandchildren is said to have died penniless.
In less than a single generation the surviving Vanderbilts had spent the majority of their family wealth!

No one today is that wealthy, but there is a lesson here for those who have accumulated multimillion dollar fortunes. While families today will openly discuss formerly taboo subjects like same-sex marriage and drug use, talking about family wealth seems to be harder to discuss.

Most wealthy people have wills and trusts but a substantial number of children have no idea of how much money their parents have. I have experienced this frequently in our practice when we disclose to heirs how much money they are actually inheriting. This applies not just to the wealthy but also the moderately “comfortable.”

According to a recent study, approximately 80{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} to 90{030251e622a83165372097b752b1e1477acc3e16319689a4bdeb1497eb0fac93} of families who have inheritable wealth have an up-to-date will. Only about half have discussed their inheritance with their children.

The reasons why parents don’t talk about money with their children range from not thinking it’s important, don’t want children to feel entitled, or they just don’t talk about money.

The problem is that the receipt of sudden wealth can have a deleterious affect on people. Too often a family fortune that has been created with great effort is squandered by people who have no idea that their inheritance is finite.

What can be done? Creating an environment and venue where family wealth can be discussed can be facilitated by a family’s financial advisor, ideally a Registered Investment Advisor – rather than a broker – who has the best interest of the family at heart.

If you need someone who can help you talk about money with your heirs, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

If you’re rich, will your kids stay rich?

Different countries have different ways of expressing the same beliefs about wealth: “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” is the one I most often hear. In Japan, it’s “Rice paddies to rice paddies in three generations”. In China, “Wealth never survives three generations.” In fact, for 70% of all wealthy families, the money has been spent, or otherwise lost before the end of the second generation.

People who have enough money to consider themselves, ‘rich” – those with at least $10 million — worry about their kids squandering the money they’re given or inherited.

According to a study by U.S. Trust, 75% of families worth over $5 million made it on their own. In other words, they built it, mostly by starting a successful business.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that their kids are equally smart or hardworking. And it doesn’t mean that their parents are wise investors.

That means there’s a market out there for advisors who can teach the kids (and often the parents) the ins and outs of investing. This provides these families with the means to keep the wealth they have earned and keep it for the next generation, and the next after that.

But just as important is passing on the social, intellectual and spiritual capital that created the wealth in the first place. Too often the children of wealthy families fail to appreciate the work and sacrifice it took to create that wealth, and assume it will always be there for them.

At Korving & Company often serve several generations of the same family. If you have concerns about your children’s ability to manage money, call us for a consultation.

Sudden Wealth Syndrome

The person who suddenly comes into wealth needs much more than financial planning.  Lottery winners, those who inherit wealth, people who sell a family business often fall prey to the “sudden wealth syndrome” and frequently lose what they have gained.  Sudden wealth recipients’ immediate concerns may have little to do with financial planning or investment strategies. Even people who know they’ll be getting money at some point—such as an inheritance—may significantly underestimate the amount. Failing to address the psychological ramifications of sudden wealth can lead to financial ruin.  The assistance that these people need is often more psychological than financial, at least at the beginning .

Newfound wealth is usually a very emotional thing and people usually make terrible financial decisions when they are emotional.  People who win the lottery or inherit wealth need to give a lot of thought and decide what they want their lives to look like.  Some of the dangers that these people face include:

  • Thinking they have more money than they do.   No matter how much it seems at the beginning it’s always a finite amount and can run out if not properly handled.
  • Windfalls are viewed very differently than money they that’s been worked for and therefore is often spent irrationally.  No one really “needs” a yacht.
  • Many immediately quit their jobs.  The problem then becomes: what are they going to do with their time.  This can lead to a “honeymoon period” where they go on spending sprees and find their lives empty of meaning.
  • They become suspicious, including suspecting their advisors of being more interested in their money than them.
  • They are barraged with business propositions, requests for loans and the like.   This is where a trusted advisor can help.  I recently had a portfolio review with one of my clients who is a doctor.  Physicians and surgeons are constantly barraged with business and investment proposals because they are viewed as wealthy.  I offered to review these proposals for him and tell him which ones were legitimate, reasonable and appropriate for him.  An advisor should be willing and able to do the same thing for those who have acquired sudden wealth.

Advice to those who achieve sudden wealth.  Don’t do anything sudden.

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