It isn't easy as you think being very, very wealthy

Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) -- So you think your worries will disappear if you become wealthy?

Well, think again. Take a tip from the wealthiest of the wealthy: Your worries might change, but they don't disappear.

The majority of very wealthy parents, for example, worry that their kids will place too much emphasis on material possessions, or be naive about the value of money or that they'll spend beyond their means.

Avoiding such traits isn't easy work, not when being a rich parent means you you'll be paying for music, art or dance lessons (92 percent), summer camp (87 percent) and international travel (83 percent).

These results are from US Trust Co.'s annual survey of its clientele, which is the top 1 percent of wealthy Americans, meaning net worth of $3 million or adjusted cross income of $300,000-plus.

Each year the survey changes. Prior surveys included attitudes and behavior toward investments, retirement, estate planning, and baby boomers; this year's was on financial issues that affect children.

Every parent, poor or well-off, worries about teaching children the value of money. But we're talking big money here, like setting up a checking account for offspring (63 percent) or a brokerage account (55).

It might also entail privileges at a private country club, yacht club or tennis club (49 percent), expensive electronic equipment other than computers (48) and special events such as debutante balls (46).

Such things can give young people the wrong impression, so 99 percent of respondents expect their offspring to clean up their bedroom, take out the trash (85 percent), set the dinner tables and do the dishes (83).

About three-quarters of this year's respondents said their children had, or will have, a part-time job during junior high or high school and work at least some of the summers between those school years.

''These are rational and responsible wealthy families,'' said U.S. Trust president Jeffrey Maurer. ''They work very hard to provide benefits to their children.''

But do they sometimes contradict themselves, he was asked. To which he responded: ''What the use of being rich if you cannot provide a solid education, music lessons, computers and summer camps?''

When you are very rich, you may also have money you can't or do not wish to use up in a lifetime. It means inheritances, and of course the younger family members are quite aware that this lies in their future.

On average, the respondents thought 29 was the youngest age at which an individual should be entrusted with a significant inheritance of, say, $3.4 million. On average, parents thought that up to that sum could be entrusted before having a negative effect on the recipient's values.

While most agree it's nice to leave something, there is the ever-present matter of taxes.

Little wonder that 66 percent of the wealthy parents said their should be no federal estate tax at all.

End Adv PMs Tuesday, January 23.

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