Money Talks: How Much Money Should You Leave to Your Kids?

Written by: Cale Dowell

Have you wondered how much money is appropriate to give to your kids?

I had the opportunity to share a weekend with 25 families that had a net worth of $50 million or more. Part of the gathering was to discuss this challenging question, and it was the most engaged dialogue of the weekend.

As a reference, it is one of the most common questions asked during the estate planning process. Typically, the default answer is to split assets equally among heirs.

But take just a minute to think about your family. If you have kids, they likely each have different personalities, talents, passions, and struggles. You love them equally, but treat them differently. Now consider that later today you meet an unfortunate, early demise. Subsequently, tomorrow each of your children receives a check for $5 million dollars.

Would this be a good or bad? Would they spend it all in the first year? Give it away to charitable causes? Quit their job? Invest it for the long haul, and keep working?

Here's the better question: would you trust each one of your children to individually handle $5 million dollars tomorrow?

Research shows that without providing wisdom, purpose, and values, the transfer of wealth is more likely to be destructive than productive. Ultimately, inheritance is more than just financial assets. We have the opportunity to pass on our values, our passions, our relationships and our wisdom.

So to answer the question of how much money to leave your kids, consider this:

The amount of financial assets you transfer should coincide with the amount of intangible assets you transfer.

Start by unpacking how much wisdom, purpose, and values you've transferred thus far. I can promise you that it will reveal one of two things:

  1. You've got some work to do.
  2. Your kids are more ready than you think they are, and no dollar amount will change that.

It's time to stop asking the question, and start doing something about it. If you don't know where to start, it can be as simple as this:  Share a personal story of one piece of wisdom you've learned about money with your kids. There's nothing like telling your own story to get the conversation moving. 

the ideal stewardship model


Cale Dowell serves as Chief Operating Officer for Archetype Wealth Partners and resides in Houston with his wife Lynne and their two kids. Cale is seeking to create a paradigm shift in the way the financial services industry serves and impacts people. Archetype exists to help families thrive across generations.


Our intent in providing this material is purely for informational purposes, as of the date hereof, and may be subject to change without notice. This article does not intend to constitute accounting, legal, tax, or other professional advice. Visitors and readers should not act upon the content or information found here without first seeking appropriate advice from a trusted accountant, financial planner, lawyer or other professional.

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