Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Sandy Weill and other members of the wealth ranks said they prefer to give their fortunes to philanthropy rather than creating multigenerational dynasties. They are still leaving substantial amounts of money to family members; but, as Buffett once said, he planned to give his kids "enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing."
The effects of wealth on children is likely to get even more attention with what a recent study called the greatest wealth transfer in history. A study from the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy projects that $36 trillion will pass down to heirs between 2007 and 2061.
Read MoreGreatest wealth transfer in history is under way
So far, however, evidence of a huge cascade of inherited wealth has yet to materialize. Between 1989 and 2007, the share of households reporting a wealth transfer fell by 2.5 percentage points, according to a study by NYU economist Edward Wolff that looked at tax returns.
As one wealth creator in Asia said in the Withers study: "To bring a whole family along, you need clarity of purpose. You need to live your values, don't intellectualize them. You must correct power imbalances when they occur in the family. And, remember that money does not confer wisdom. You are lucky, not smart and your children must know that they are lucky, not smart."
—By CNBC's Robert Frank.