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People Who Inherit Wealth Less Likely to Donate It, Elder Law Attorney, Woodstock, GA


A recent study on the differences in charitable giving between the self-made wealthy and those that inherit wealth could have estate planning implications.

A few years ago Bill Gates proclaimed that the first-generation wealthy are more generous to charities than the dynastic wealthy. In other words, those who made the fortune give more than those who inherit it. Researchers decided to study the idea to see if Gates was right.

It turns out that he was, at least as it applies to the ultra-wealthy. Billionaires who inherited their fortunes are less likely to sign the Giving Pledge or donate more than $1 million in any given year to charity than those who made the wealth.

Becker’s Hospital Review reported on this study in “The self-made rich are more philanthropic than those who inherit wealth.”

Those who would like their legacy to include a tradition of philanthropy might want to take this study into account when planning their estates. If people would like their family names to be associated with philanthropy long after they pass away, then they should not leave it up to their heirs to continue charitable giving. Instead, they might wish to consider setting up a foundation that will continue the founders’ philanthropic goals for years to come.

Of course, the study does not conclude that those who inherit wealth never give large amounts to charitable causes. They are just less likely to do so than those who create wealth for themselves.

Perhaps someone will do a follow-up study to determine the reasons for the discrepancy.

Reference: Becker’s Hospital Review (Feb. 11, 2016) “The self-made rich are more philanthropic than those who inherit wealth.”

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