Womoney - Sharon Rich

Sharon Rich

Inherited Money

When you inherit wealth, you often inherit more:
a history of silence,
a lack of financial education, investment advisors or trustees,
& layers of emotional history.

The task is to take care of both the emotional and technical issues

Sharon Rich co-authored the book The Challenges of Wealth with socially responsible investor, Amy Domini, and psychologist Dennis Pearne, both of whom specialize in assisting people with inherited wealth.

There are a variety of resources available for inheritors including

The Resource Generation  "a national organization that works with young people with financial wealth who are supporting and challenging each other to effect progressive social change through the creative, responsible and strategic use of financial and other resources"

Women Donors Network  " unites powerful, visionary women who are committed to effecting lasting fundamental change"

The Inheritance Project providing publications and online resources for inheritors 

Bolder Giving in Extraordinary Times whose mission is to inspire and support people to give at their full potential

For more resources, check out
    Inheritance  and
  Philanthropy and Non-Profits

For inheritors, talking to others who share some of the same concerns can be a helpful experience. Many inheritors have been kept isolated and never having had the chance to talk openly about their feelings.

The following is adapted from The Inheritance Project:

Abundant wealth has a way of separating heirs from the grist of life. For some inheritors, this separation manifests as a painful inability to identify their real needs and longings. More than anything, such heirs are searching for ways to bridge the distance they feel from themselves. Other heirs find it difficult to establish authentic and trusting friendships; they worry that perhaps their net worth matters more to friends than their self-worth. Still others find it hard to connect with meaningful work, often not knowing how to take the first step toward developing a gratifying vocation. Money is such a taboo subject, and talking about inherited money is especially taboo. Many heirs feel cut off not only from one another but also from those who do not share the experience of wealth. Some feel acute embarrassment and "fogginess" when confronted with the practicalities of their wealth. On the other hand, there are those who have plenty of financial knowledge but lack the joy of a heart-centered philanthropy. When heirs cannot connect their ample resources to a meaningful social vision, giving away money can feel empty, like a mechanical obligation.

Although our culture vacillates between enshrining money as the source of all happiness and condemning it as the root of all evil, money is actually just a neutral medium of exchange. It does, though, have a way of highlighting people's difficulties. As one heir succinctly puts it, "Money is like a snowball; it collects all your problems." It can be liberating to recognize that wealth is not the ultimate cause of every unhappiness we experience.

Guilt and low self-esteem plague too many heirs as it is. The agenda of the inheritance project is to encourage heirs to increase their awareness about the effects of wealth in their lives and the lives of others. Ultimately, we believe that as heirs undertake the gradual process of exploring and resolving their personal blocks around wealth, the natural result is an impulse to generosity, a desire to put one's resources to use for the good of others.

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