David Wills of NCF-Texas on “How Do I Pass Wealth to My Heirs?”

Situation: Passing Wealth without Ruining My Heirs

As we’ve lead Next Steps Retreats throughout the world (check out nextstepsretreat.org to learn more), one question that comes up often is “How do I pass wealth to my heirs? David Wills has walked with hundreds of families through these questions. He shared at an Atlanta Celebration of Generosity. We gathered a few of David’s gems of wisdom.


Scripture: Inheritance Is a Good Thing — but Be Careful

“Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 7:11

“A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”

Proverbs 13:22

“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

1 Timothy 6:10


Inheritance can be a wonderful, life-giving thing. But that those who long for wealth lose it and “pierce themselves” with many griefs. David offers several steps families can go through to preserve the good aspects of inheritance without all the grief.

Inheritance can be a wonderful, life-giving thing. But….

Culture assumes that we leave as much as possible to our children, and divy it up evenly. David’s steps, below, challenge some of those assumptions.


Steps: Challenge Culture’s Assumptions

1. First, do no harm.

We are responsible for how our “successor trustees” manage wealth.

2. Ask hard questions.

Will this transfer of wealth…
…build spiritual capital in my children?
…build character capital in my children?
…reduce my children’s work ethic?
…increase their standard of living without them having to work for it?
…give Satan an opportunity to bring calamity…especially between siblings?

3. Asking timing questions.

Leave less rather than more early on.


4. Ask child-focused questions.

Ask “How much will our kids need?” rather than “How much can we give them?”

The goal is to leave behind kids who are “content whatever the circumstances.”


5. Aim for care, not “fair.”

The question in passing different amounts to your children is not “What’s fair?” but “What’s right?”.

Will your children need your money? If not, you should not feel compelled to leave it to them.

Will your children use it wisely? If not, you should feel compelled not to leave it to them.


6. If your kids don’t want your money, they may be good candidates to receive it.


David Wills is passionate about generosity and eternity, so he invests his time helping others lay-up treasure in heaven and taking hold of life that is truly life. David wears several hats within the NCF organization including President Emeritus and National Relationship Manager. David is the co-author of two books, Investing in God’s Business and Family.Money. He earned a BBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Baylor University, a JD from Baylor Law School and completed post-graduate work at Dallas Theological Seminary and Harvard’s Kennedy School. David serves on numerous boards, including Generous Giving (of which he is also a co-founder), Impact Foundation, Global Generosity, Hope for the Heart, ProVision Foundation, The River Foundation, Trust Bridge Global Foundation, iDonate and the Advisory Board of Barnhart Crane and Rigging in Memphis, TN. He also works in the area of advocacy, serving on the Strategy Board for the Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR) and as a consultant for the Maclellan Foundation in Chattanooga, TN. Texas natives, David and his wife Chris have been married for 25 years and live on a tiny ranch just outside Waco, Texas with some of their seven children. (4 of them are currently teenagers!)

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