Tycoons who won't leave their money to their kids

Last updated 08:38 22/08/2013
Nigella Lawson
MONEY RUINS PEOPLE: Nigella Lawson doesn't plan on leaving her kids 'destitute,' but believes they should have to support themselves after school ended.

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A growing number of mega-wealthy business people and entertainers have pledged to give away the bulk of their fortunes rather than leave their money to their children.

Don't feel too sorry for the kids though. They'll still have their famous names, prestigious educations, untold opportunities, advantages and connections to help them success. And while these parents are giving most of the money away, they are still keeping a few million (or billion) up their sleeve.

Here are 15 tycoons who have pledged to give away most of their fortunes, rather than passing it on to the next generation.

Business magnate Warren Buffett

As an incredibly wealthy investor and philanthropist, Buffett has pledged to give away 99 per cent of his wealth, either during his life or when he dies. He started by promising 83 per cent of it to the Gates Foundation, according to FORTUNE Magazine.

The Oracle of Omaha isn't worried about his children not getting their fair share. Echoing a common sentiment on this list, Buffett said in his letter to the Gates Foundation: 'I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.'

Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar

Ever since Omidyar became a billionaire when he was 31 years old, the eBay founder has made it his life's work to donate the majority of his money to those less fortunate instead of to his three children, according to Forbes.

He signed the Gates and Buffett Giving Pledge in 2010, and continuously gives eBay shares to the Omidyar Network, his philanthropic investment firm.

He and his wife Pam are also the single biggest private donors to the fight against the human trafficking industry.

New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg, with a net worth of $US19.5 billion ($24.9 billion), gets paid US$1 a year for his government duties as he's pretty much set financially.

But Bloomberg is also an avid philanthropist, having donated millions to Johns Hopkins University, the Carnegie Corporation, and thousands of other non-profits.

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In his letter to The Giving Pledge, Bloomberg wrote that 'nearly all of my net worth will be given away in the years ahead or left to my foundation.'

Bloomberg's two daughters, however, may be left to foot the bill upon his death. Bloomberg once said 'the best financial planning ends with bouncing the cheque to the undertaker.'

Rockstar Gene Simmons

The bassist for KISS, one of the best-selling American bands of all time, is a self-made man. He was born in Israel, moved to Queens with his mother, and started a group that would end up compiling 28 gold records over the years.

Simmons wants the same path for his two kids, Nick and Sophie. He told CNBC several years ago: '...in terms of an inheritance and stuff, they're gonna be taken care of, but they will never be rich off my money. Because every year they should be forced to get up out of bed, and go out and work and make their own way.'

So the US$300 million that belong to Simmons will be headed somewhere else upon his death.

Australian iron magnate Gina Rinehart

Rinehart - the richest woman in Australia - wants to cut her children out of their inheritance.

She herself inherited her company and fortune from her father, Lang Hancock, and her children were also named in his estate.

But court documents in the Australian media show that Rinehart doesn't believe her four kids are fit to manage the family fortune.

'None of the plaintiffs has the requisite capacity or skill, nor the knowledge, experience, judgment or responsible work ethic to administer a trust in the nature of the trust in particular as part of the growing HPPL Group,' she once claimed in court papers.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates

Bill Gates is one of the richest people in the world. But he and his wife Melinda aren't interested in keeping their money for themselves, or for their three children.

'I knew I didn't think it was a good idea to give the money to my kids. That wouldn't be good either for my kids or society,' he told The Sun in 2010.

Instead, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was founded in 1994, and today has assets of over US$37b. The Foundation even started 'The Giving Pledge,' which invites other wealthy individuals to join the Gates' lead and donate half their money to charity.

Actor Jackie Chan

The movie star announced in 2011 that he had decided to give away half his money to charity when he dies. Chan added that he was not planning on leaving his son Jaycee any of the millions of dollars he has made during his film career.

'If he is capable, he can make his own money. If he is not, then he will just be wasting my money,' Channel NewsAsia quoted Chan as saying.

Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus

Marcus grew up in Newark, New Jersey to Russian immigrant parents, and went on to start Home Depot. His retail success helped him accumulate US$1.5b in net worth. His philanthropic efforts include funding the Georgia Aquarium and starting the Marcus Foundation.

Not wanting his kids to inherit large sums of money - for their own good, he told Forbes - Marcus plans on giving the majority of his Home Depot stock to his foundation, which benefits the handicapped and education.

Businessman Chuck Feeney

Chuck Feeney is the the co-founder of Duty-Free Shoppers Group (those airport shops), and was one of the world's billionaires in the late 1980s until he transferred all his wealth to his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, according to Forbes.

Before giving away their inheritance, he also went to great lengths to teach his children the value of saving money, including making his kids chat with their friends on payphones, work during their vacations, and work through college, according to The Daily Mail.

Today, it's rumoured Feeney doesn't even own a house or a car. He once famously told The New York Times, 'I want the last cheque I write to bounce.'

British Chef Nigella Lawson

Lawson is a best-selling author and TV personality, which made her a millionaire even before she married (and then later divorced) wealthy advertising tycoon and art collector Charles Saatchi.

Though Lawson herself comes from a wealthy background, she seems to be a firm believer in not giving her two children that same advantage. She came under fire for saying 'I am determined that my children should have no financial security. It ruins people not having to earn money.'

She followed up that statement by saying she didn't plan on leaving her kids 'destitute,' but stood by the idea that they would have to support themselves after school ended.

Media mogul Ted Turner

Turner is such a prominent philanthropist that he is as famous for giving away money as he is for making it.

After accumulating his wealth through the founding of media outlets like CNN and TBS, Turner has gone on to give literally billions of dollars to causes like the United Nations Foundation.

Turner has five children from three marriages, but they shouldn't expect a large endowment once he passes. Whether jokingly or not, Turner was quoted in 2010 as saying he was 'almost to the edge of poverty' and just wants enough money to cover funeral expenses when he dies.

Hedge fund manager John Arnold

John Arnold may only be 40 years old, but last October he closed his hedge fund, Centaurus Energy, and retired after amassing an estimated wealth of $US4 billion over the last 10 years.

Now, Arnold and his wife Laura have dedicated the rest of their lives to giving away that wealth through their foundation to support innovative ideas, instead of to their three children.

'Because of our backgrounds and because of our own experiences, we just don't believe in dynastic wealth,' said Laura Arnold in an interview posted on givesmart.org.

British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber

Having racked up hundreds of millions of dollars and becoming a knight thanks to his work as a theatre composer, Webber wants to use that money to encourage teaching the arts.

Webber once said that '(A will) is one thing you do start to think about when you get to my age. I don't think it should be about having a whole load of rich children and grandchildren. I think it should be used as a way to encourage the arts.'

His five children will be 'taken care of,' but the majority of the estate will go towards arts programs.

Director and producer George Lucas

Lucas signed on to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge back in July of 2010, promising to give at least half of his wealth away by the time of his death.

'I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education,' Lucas wrote in his pledge letter.

The father of four also said in a statement that he would donate the $US4 billion-plus Disney paid him to acquire Lucas Films to charity as well.

Texas oil and gas magnate T Boone Pickens

Pickens spent his whole life - from delivering newspapers to taking over Gulf Oil - making money via acquisition. The corporate raider now has a net worth of US$1.4b because of it.

So it's no surprise that Pickens isn't in favour of handing his money over for free, even to his children. Pickens is one of America's billionaires to take The Giving Pledge, donating at least half of his money to charity.

And when asked about leaving money for his kids, he had this to say: 'I've long stated that I enjoy making money, and I enjoy giving it away ... I'm not a big fan of inherited wealth. It generally does more harm than good.'

Eric Goldschein also contributed to this story.

- BusinessInsider

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