The Sting of Disinheritance

by Samantha on July 1, 2014

Do We Owe Our Kids Our Money After We're Gone?


Sting

You think that kids of celebrities have it easy? Think again.

Sting’s surprising announcement that he’s not leaving any of his vast fortune to his children was a shock to many. How could this multimillionaire leave his kids to have to *gasp* work for a living? It just didn’t seem right.

According to the rock legend, his decision comes from his personal philosophy about children not having things handed to them on a silver platter, even if  – as in the case of his own progeny – they come from Rock royalty. The rock superstar says that he will continue spending the money he’s earned as he has been doing all along, paying his staff and allocating it whenever and wherever he darn well pleases. He maintains that he’s spending his money now, not saving it up in a tidy sum to be disbursed amongst his children in the event of his death.

The news has gotta sting for his six children who are likely very aware of their father’s estimated $300 million net worth. After all, they’ve probably had more than comfortable lives as a result of their fathers’ vast income, in spite of what Sting maintains.

Even so, the idea of pending poverty or, at best, the life of a “working stiff” must be sobering considering the fact that the family home is an Elizabethan Lake mansion located on a 60 acre estate near Stonehenge. The obvious question that crosses many of our minds is “why?

Why would someone of such considerable means choose to make a decision that flies in the face of convention and leave his kids with bupkus?

Good-old mean-spiritedness, stinginess and general bad parenting attributes have been suggested as the reasons for Sting’s decision. But is he really in the wrong?

My initial reaction to his news was probably a common one: that his choice regarding money is hurting his children in more ways than one. Of course, they must feel incredibly pained, knowing that their father has consciously chosen to exclude them from a future windfall following his death. Having the knowledge that a parent has actively and purposefully decided to limit financial comfort for their children and instead, relegate the kids to a life of working for a living seems a tad harsh, particularly when the parent is of considerable means.

Yet, upon further reflection, it seems that Mr. Sumner has a point.

It would be very easy for his children to kick back and chill, knowing full well that regardless of their success in life or lack thereof, they’d be driving down “Easy Street” (likely in a customized and really expensive luxury vehicle) once old Dad had kicked the bucket. In many situations where incredible wealth is a foregone conclusion, this is more commonly the behaviour that kids of the well-to-do display, sadly. After all – why bother working hard and making an effort to achieve something in your life – at least financially – when a monetary windfall is a matter of course?

Not so for the children of Sting, however, as he had apparently advised his kids of their lack of inheritance early on. “They have to work. All my kids know that and they rarely ask me for anything, which I really respect and appreciate,” he explained.

As a result, all of his children have grown up knowing that they would not be handed an automatic ticket to la dolce vita and have planned accordingly. By most accounts, they are doing well.

Did the knowledge that daddy’s money would not automatically be disbursed to them give the kids more incentive to work hard and achieve something on their own? Perhaps. But, more importantly, one of parenthood’s most important lessons – that in the real world, nothing is handed to us on a silver platter – was demonstrated by Sting’s actions. In other words, the rock superstar prepared his kids for one of the harsh reality of life: no pain, no gain.

The fact of the matter is that without the solid values of good old-fashioned hard work, focus and intestinal fortitude that result in a strong character, parents are leaving their kids ill-prepared for life’s challenges. Living a life unfettered by the day-to-day hurdles that most of us experience may sound ideal but the reality is that those who have been given this “gift” have also been presented with a disadvantage as well. We all know that when the going gets tough, whether personally or professionally, that’s when we need to draw upon our inner strengths that have been cultivated over the years. Working hard, sometimes struggling, and building a thicker skin gives us the toughness that we require when life doesn’t go as planned.

For of those to whom much is given, much is required.” Except, that is, if you’re the child of a mega-millionaire. Then, what’s often required is very little as you reap the benefits of your parents’ hard work without lifting nary a finger. Kids in these circumstances are very often, sadly, unprepared for hard times or worse – they may never gain the emotional strength that results from the difficult life challenges that so many of us face.

Understood: Sting’s situation is atypical as most of us could only hope to earn $300 million in our lifetimes. But the point being made is still the same. The value and importance of hard work is something that all children should be taught; it is perhaps more pressing that children of the very wealthy learn these principles at an early age. Sting may not be leaving his children his earthly financial possessions but ironically, what he’s giving them is far more valuable. The lessons learned from his decision are beyond any price tag that even a man worth $30 million or more could afford.

Harsh? Perhaps. A lesson learned? Absolutely.

Do we owe our kids our money after we’re gone? No. What we owe them are the skills and abilities to navigate life successfully and (hopefully) happily. Money is not necessarily part of the equation.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here: Sting is Right to Deny His Kids a Big Inheritance

 

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 Image courtesy of www.sting.com, photo credit: Kevin Mazur

 

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