The late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman didn’t want his three children, Cooper (10), Tallulah (7), and Willa (5), becoming “trust fund kids,” according to court documents filed in Manhattan Surrogate Court. The actor’s accountant David Friedman said that Hoffman wanted his estimated $35 million fortune to go to his partner and the children’s mother, Mimi O’Donnell, instead.
His initial will was written in 2004, when his son was two and his two daughters were not yet born. It stated that Hoffman wanted his son to be raised in a cultural city, such as New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. “The purpose of this request is so that my son will be exposed to the culture, arts, and architecture that such cities offer,” the Oscar®-winning star wrote.
I always thought Hoffman was a great actor long before he won his Academy Award®, but hearing this makes me like him all the more. The fact that he wanted his children to work for a living — to strive towards a goal, have ambition, and be surrounded by culture to inspire them — speaks volumes about the man he was.
Hoffman is not alone in his hopes for his children; X-Factor supremo Simon Cowell also said that he would make his son Eric earn his own living. “I never inherited anything in my life, and everything I have I had to earn. But I think that’s what made me enjoy my life more. I want my son to feel like he’s got to prove his own way and I’d like to do what my dad did for me,” he said.
Cowell has his parents to thank for his tireless work ethic: “When we were kids, my mum said to me, ‘We’re going on holiday, which we will pay for, but you’ve got to earn your spending money.’ So I washed cars, mowed lawns, did whatever I could – but I absolutely loved it. And that moment when you’ve got your first £5 note, the sky’s the limit. It’s the best feeling in the world. So I always understood the notion that if you want to make money, you’ve got to work for it.”
Isn’t the very reason that Cowell and businessmen like him are so successful is because they were driven to “make it” on their own terms? That if they wanted something, they had to work out their own path to getting it, which in my book, makes the reward all the sweeter?
All of this makes me wonder what the parents of all the teens featured on Rich Kids of Instagram are thinking. From $500,000 spending limits on their credit cards and flashy cars, to privates jets and obscene amounts of champagne sipped aboard yachts, these kids want for nothing. Wearing watches that cost more than most people earn in five years, they revel in their wealth and easy lifestyle. In fact, they deliberately goad those who click over, as if to say, “I have money. I, therefore, am better than you.” With all that flash and cash, what do they have to aspire to? I actually feel sorry for them and wonder if they’ll get to know the joy that Cowell described above. Success through hard work is sweeter tasting than all their sickly champagnes.
And what’s even more alarming is that this vacuous, narcissistic lifestyle is encouraging other teens to believe that this is all they should want from their lives: money. That money buys everything, status included. But what about talent and brains? What about volunteering or offering to help those less fortunate? Why not put that on display instead of their $100,000 shopping sprees?
Thankfully, a new survey proves that like Hoffman and Cowell, not all wealthy parents are feeding into this “Rich Kids of Instagram” mentality. The law firm Withers LLP and Scorpio Partnership asked 3,000 families around the world about their greatest fears regarding their wealth and family future. Among families worth $10 million or more, after “Health,” their next ranking was, “My children will lack the drive and ambition to get ahead.”
Hoffman not only wanted his kids to appreciate money, but he wanted them to appreciate the arts. Anyone can win the lottery and buy a big house or glittering diamonds, but having taste, having an opinion, having personal success — those are totally different things.
I know what I want for my kids, do you?