I recently had dinner with a friend who has amassed a nine-figure net worth. He’s a cancer survivor and believes he has 10-15 years left to live. (He’s in his early 70s.)
Over dinner, he spoke of his estate planning concerns. He’s fearful that giving his kids more than 30% of his estate might do more harm than good. He struggles with philanthropy because he favors giving money to small charities, but at his level of wealth, finding and funding those charitable gifts is a full-time job.
Plus … he no longer enjoys running his business. In fact, he FANTASIZES about selling it and spending his life doing what he desires, but he feels stuck. His challenge is the $20 million of capital gains taxes he might face if he sells the business. If he holds the business until he dies, the capital gains taxes likely would vanish due to a nuance in the tax law.
Fifteen years isn’t a long time — it’s about 5,500 days. So I asked him why he would spend any of that precious time doing something he doesn’t enjoy so he could leave more money to his kids who don’t need it or to charities he can’t identify.
Does any part of this story make ANY sense?
My friend looked at me: “When you put it that way, it doesn’t.”
We live in a money-centric culture that 1) defines money as our scarcest resource and 2) encourages us to make the best choices based purely on financial concerns … even if they aren’t the best choices for our own lives.
My friend, with his nine-figure net worth, might be an extreme example, but we’re all at risk of making the same money-first, life-denying choices.