Inherited wealth can bring out the worst in people

An article in Canada’s national Globe and Mail newspaper, called “A Family Feud Straight Out of Dickens,” (Febuary 4) is all about greed and how it can destroy families. Since I have interviewed family members who barely survived litigation sparked by similar circumstances, I think this is worth sharing.

The story concerns the Kaptyn family of Toronto. John Kaptyn, a Dutch immigrant and real estate developer, left most of a $75 million fortune to his grandchildren, bypassing his two sons. The sons litigated their father’s will, and the legal costs have “devoured millions of dollars.” (This is typical.) Ontario Superior Court Judge D.M. Brown compared the struggle to the feuding Jarndyce family in Dickens’ Bleak House. Judge Brown denied 80 percent of the sons’ claim and said, “If the family of John Kaptyn remains set on wasting away, through litigation, much of the estate which John Kaptyn obviously spent decades of hard work amassing, they should not look to this court for any sympathy.”

Doreen Kaptyn, Kaptyn’s widow, said that the family has been torn apart by the dispute. “John was the glue that kept the family together. This is a very sad story.”

Two similar accounts are found in Labors of Love: The Legacy of Inherited Wealth, Book II, from The Inheritance Project

One thought on “Inherited wealth can bring out the worst in people

  1. Inherited wealth does bring out the worst in people.

    For example, in a family that I know, the 5 children inherited a million dollars each, while the father and his new wife did not. they actually struggled for money and had to watch this travesty happen.

    Suddenly children who had serious substance abuse issues and emotional abuse issues were spending money like water, and not seeing that their own father needed help.

    I know that it was hard for everyone to watch money being wasted that way, and even when one of the children did promise his father some money for helping him move house, he ended up reneging on it, making bad blood.

    It was a nightmare. We need to educate people who are coming into money on how to deal with the different emotions and impulses that will arise. And maybe a round of family counseling to start?



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