Millionaires & Billionaires

How much is too much to leave the kids? $63 million

Wealth managers, academics and psychologists have debated for centuries the question of "how much is too much?" when it comes to inheritances.

Now, there's an answer: $63 million.

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Families worth $100 million or more said that on average an inheritance of $63 million is "too much" for the sole heir of an estate, according to a study from Bank of America's Merrill Lynch unit. An inheritance of $26 million was "too little."

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What does "too much" mean?

The study said that among those $100 million families, 46 percent said "too much" is best defined as an inheritance that "provides a disincentive for the recipient to achieve their full potential." Another 35 percent defined it as a more fluid number that depends "on the individual" receiving the money. And 22 percent said "no amount is too much."

Merrill Lynch labels the threshold at which an inheritance does more harm than good as "the crossover point." But the crossover point really depends on the recipient.

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"When trying to pinpoint a crossover point between too much and not enough, investors often think of dollar amounts rather than impact," the report said. But "when it comes to how much is too much, it appears there may be no one-size-fits-all answer."

Or as Warren Buffett says, the wealthy should leave their kids enough that they can do anything, but not so much that they can do nothing.

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