Young persons and a large inheritance

Young persons handed large inheritances

If you and your spouse do not have Wills and both pass away suddenly your children will get their entire inheritance in a lump sum at 21.

Having to manage a large inheritance at 21 is a huge burden. Few people can do it.

Making a Will is not just about appointing guardians for your children. See: .

Making a Will also creates the circumstances to allow your children the chance to grow up and only have to deal with their inheritance when they are old enough.

The human brain at 21

“The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.

In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.” See:

Now if the brain is still developing at 21, giving someone their full inheritance at 21 is asking them to manage it at a time when they are making decisions based on emotions.

What happens to a young person who has to manage a large sum of money

Economist Jay Zagorsky (see: ) writes:

“my own research found that the average person in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s who was given an inheritance or large financial gift quickly lost half the money through spending or poor investments”

(see:  and also ).

According to the Williams Group wealth consultancy 70% of wealthy families lose their wealth by the second generation (see:

Receiving an inheritance – the norm

You may be afraid that if something bad happens to you then your children would be destitute or somehow suffer if they do not get their inheritance when they turn 21.

Yet most of us will go through life never inheriting a cent until late in our lives.

Our parents will probably live to their 80’s. By that time we will be in our 50’s or 60’s. So the norm is that most people do not ever receive an inheritance until late in life.

Most people who do not receive an inheritance at 21 have managed.

The burden of inheriting when young

Lottery winners quickly discover the curse of their good fortune becoming public knowledge. Everyone looks to them for help financially.

It is the same for someone receiving a large inheritance at 21. Everyone will be looking for help from the person receiving the large inheritance.

Giving children their full inheritance at 21 is putting a burden on them.

Protecting a young beneficiary’s inheritance from loss 

Is it unreasonable to make a Will that states that your children will only inherit when they are 25 or 30? Princess Diana did that in her Will.

See :

If you have young children and want to ensure that their inheritance is properly managed if something happens to you please see our follow up post at

11th March 2019