Aretha Franklin disinherited one of her four children in her will.
Aretha Franklin was a famous singer and songwriter who was nicknamed “The Queen of Soul.” She started her career when she was just a child, singing gospel songs at her Baptist Church in Michigan. Her father was a minister there. Aretha was born in 1942, and she died at the age of 76 years old in 2018.
Aretha had four kids: Teddy, Kecalf, Clarence, and Edward. Aretha left her piano and her papers to her kids, but nothing else. Apparently, she had written three wills, which were found in various places through her home. She disinherited her eldest son, Clarence, who she had when she was twelve.
Many believe that inheritance is the best path to becoming wealthy since it is also the quickest. After all, it’s a type of lottery you’ve already won at birth. Yet, some billionaires and multimillionaires consider leaving their fortunes to children and grandchildren as unfair and even dangerous.
Instead of keeping it all in the family, some rich people have a broader vision for maximizing their family legacy. To ensure that their children and grandchildren earn their own money through hard work and their own merits, these ultra-wealthy celebrities have left their offspring only a small part of their fortune, and in some cases, even cut them out entirely.
- Bill Gates
Known as: Founder of Microsoft
Net Worth: $106.8 Billion
In 1975, Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft with his childhood friend, Paul Allen. Nobody expected Gates to become a millionaire by the age of 26, much less the richest person in the world for most of the last two decades.
Having amassed a nest egg of more than $100 billion, Bill and his wife Melinda are focused on how their fortune can inspire and enable others to benefit the least fortunate on a global level through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dedicating well over 99% of their legacy to charity, and calling on other billionaires to do the same through a program called The Giving Pledge, they have indicated they will still set aside a modest $10 million for each of their three children.
- Warren Buffett
Known as: Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Berkshire-Hathaway
Net Worth: $87.7 Billion
Warren Buffett prides himself on hard work and a modest lifestyle. As one of the champions of “value investing,” from a very young age Buffett spent hours and hours searching the financial numbers of companies in hopes of finding one that was undervalued. Despite amassing a fortune approaching $100 billion, he still lives in the house in Omaha, Nebraska that he bought in 1958 for $31,000.
When it comes to passing along the fruits of his labor, however, the “Oracle of Omaha” is dedicated to spreading the wealth well beyond the Buffett family tree. Buffett shared the reasoning behind his commitment to giving away 99% of his wealth to charities: “I’m not an enthusiast for dynastic wealth, particularly when six billion others have much poorer hands than we do in life.”
- George Lucas
Net Worth: $6.4 Billion
Best known for creating the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, George Lucas has been a pioneer in a range of filmmaking technologies, as well as a savvy businessman. When he found that implementing his vision of digital special effects was too expensive, he founded his own company, Industrial Light and Magic. In 2012, he sold his production company, LucasFilms, along with the rights to all Star Wars films to Disney for $4.5 billion.
Rather than ensure each of his four children becomes a billionaire, Lucas dedicated his fortune to supporting education by joining The Giving Pledge in 2012. Here’s what Lucas had to say about his donation: “As long as I have the resources at my disposal, I will seek to raise the bar for future generations of all ages.”
- Simon Cowell
Known as: Creator, Producer, Host of American Idol, America’s Got Talent, X Factor
Net Worth: $506 Million
Simon Cowell has capitalized on the popularity of reality television to amass a half-billion dollar fortune from the proceeds of wildly successful, long-running competition shows. Starting with American Idol in 2002, Cowell’s career expanded to Britain’s Got Talent, America’s Got Talent, and syndicated X Factor versions running in countries around the world.
His most precious production came in 2014, when Cowell became a father with the arrival of his son Eric. Even before his son was born, Cowell took a strong stance on the value of making it on one’s own, telling The Mirror. “I don’t believe in passing on from one generation to another. Your legacy has to be that hopefully, you gave enough people an opportunity so that they could do well, and you gave them your time, taught them what you know.”
- Jackie Chan
Known as: Martial Arts Star, Producer of Multiple Action Movies
Net Worth: $400 Million
Jackie Chan has sustained a legendary career on the big screen as an actor, director, producer, and even a stuntman. He is famous for performing his own stunts, often at great risk. Off the set, Chan has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, a supporter of education, an outspoken activist against animal abuse, and backer of disaster relief through his Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation.
As a result of working hard his whole life, Chan does not plan to leave any of his wealth to his son. Instead, he plans on leaving half of his wealth to charity. Chan believes in hard work, commenting in an interview on Channel News Asia: “He can make his own money.”
- Gordon Ramsay
Shop Wear Care In Aid Of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity | David M. Benett/Getty Images
Known as: UK Celebrity Chef
Net Worth: $220 Million
In addition to a string of restaurants, Gordon Ramsay’s main claim to fame is his quick temper and even quicker wit when dressing down his staff and critics alike. Though his success has resulted in a nine-figure fortune, Ramsay doesn’t seem to be too interested in wealth or in passing it along to his five children.
Indicating he planned to give most of his wealth to charity, Ramsay shared his view of tough love with The Telegraph saying: “I’ve never been really turned on about the money. [My kids] don’t sit with us in first class. They haven’t worked anywhere near hard enough to afford that.”
Known as: Musician, Actor
Net Worth: $400 Million
For most of the 1970s, Gordon Sumner, also known as Sting, was a bus conductor, construction worker, tax clerk, and teacher before he became a famous musician. Four decades later, Sting’s role as the frontman of The Police and an illustrious solo career grew his fortune to an estimated $400 million. With Sting still recording new music and touring, who knows how much his wealth will continue to grow in the years to come.
In an interview with The Guardian, Sting shared that his spending habits mean that his six children should not expect to receive a great deal after his passing. “I told them there won’t be much money left because we are spending it. We have a lot of commitments. What comes in we spend, and there isn’t much left. I certainly don’t want to leave them trust funds that are albatrosses round their necks. They have to work. All my kids know that and they rarely ask me for anything, which I really respect and appreciate.”
- Elton John
Known as: Musician, Activist
Net Worth: $500 Million
Elton John has given fans around the world a great deal of happiness. John has produced more than 30 albums, tours regularly, and wrote the Oscar-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” for the soundtrack of The Lion King.
While his two sons are growing up in the limelight of their father’s fame and fortune, John has shared that after his passing, they will need to find their own paths to success. Sir Elton told the Daily Mirror newspaper: “Of course, I want to leave my boys in a very sound financial state. But it’s terrible to give kids a silver spoon. It ruins their life.”
- Philip Seymour Hoffman
Known as: Actor
Net Worth: $35 Million
Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman earned accolades for his performances in classic movies such as Scent of a Woman, Boogie Nights, and The Big Lebowski. He won the Oscar for Best Actor for playing the title role in Capote. His career was cut far too short in 2014, when Hoffman died due to a drug overdose.
Though his death came as a shock to all, he had taken formal steps years earlier to ensure that his three children would not grow up as entitled “trust fund kids,” choosing instead to leave his millions to his partner and their mother, Mimi O’Donnell. Though Hoffman didn’t think he needed to protect his wealth for his children, he did stipulate that they should “be raised in a city with art and culture,” ideally Manhattan, Chicago, or San Francisco.
- Barron Hilton
Known as: Heir, Chairman of the Hilton Hotel Corporation
Net Worth: $4.5 Billion
Barron Hilton inherited a great deal of wealth from his father Conrad, who established the hotel chain under the family name as a global leader in hospitality. Growing up a millionaire, Barron took advantage of the virtually unlimited choices that came with his vast wealth. He indulged in an expensive hobby as a private pilot with a vast array of aircrafts and started the American Football League, which would eventually merge with the NFL and create the Super Bowl.
But when it came to passing along the family fortune to his eight children and high-profile grandchildren Paris and Nicki, Barron decided to break with family tradition. Barron instead opted to donate 97% to charity, mostly to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
- Gene Simmons
Known as: Musician
Net Worth: $350 Million
Though the initial path to wealth for Gene Simmons came as bassist and co-lead singer for the 1970s glam metal rock group KISS, over the last few decades he has added to his music royalties with investments in motorsports, restaurants, and commercial cannabis.
A multimillionaire for the past few decades, Simmons grew up poor and wants to make sure his son and daughter stay hungry for their own success. In an interview with CNBC, Simmons is quoted as stating, “Every day they should be forced to get up out of bed and go out and work and make their own way.”
- Joan Crawford
Known as: Actress
Net Worth: $2 Million
Actress Joan Crawford rose to stardom in Hollywood of the 1930s due to her beauty, acting range, and sultry demeanor. Off the set, Crawford was abusive, with some of her more outrageous behavior chronicled by her adopted daughter Christina in her memoir “Mommie Dearest,” published a year after Crawford’s death in 1977.
Though she left $77,500 to each of her two younger children, Cindy and Cathy, Crawford cut Christina and son Christopher out of her will entirely. Crawford stated, “It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son Christopher or my daughter Christina for reasons which are well known to them.”
- Mark Zuckerberg
Known as: Founder and CEO of Facebook
Net Worth: $74.5 Billion
Though Facebook launched only 15 years ago, its ability to redefine social networking in the twenty-first century has expanded the Facebook empire to include billions of regular users and made founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg one of the richest people in the world. Hoping to leave the world a better place, Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan established the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to support a range of philanthropic objectives.
To demonstrate their commitment, they have dedicated 99% of their fortune to the Initiative. Here is what Zuckerberg stated in a Facebook post, titled ‘A letter to our daughter’: “We know this is a small contribution compared to all the resources and talents of those already working on these issues. But we want to do what we can, working alongside many others.”
- Robert Kardashian
Instagram: Kim Kardashian West
Known as: Defense Attorney on O.J. Simpson Trial
Net Worth: $30 Million
When he passed away in 2003 after a long battle with cancer, Rob Kardashian left an estate estimated at just shy of $30 million to his wife, Ellen Pierson, whom he had married less than a year before. Not in his will were first wife Kris and their four children — Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Rob.
Though they obviously went on eventually to carve out their own incredibly successful careers and build their own fortunes, at the time, the Kardashian clan were outraged and contested the will in court. The court ultimately rejected the suit that claimed Robert’s widow had illegally forged documents.
- Sean Connery
Global Gaming Expo’s Sixth Annual Casino Entertainment Awards | Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images
Known as: Actor, Portrayed James Bond in Seven Films
Net Worth: $350 Million
Best known as playing secret agent James Bond, Sean Connery’s childhood was anything but glamorous. Growing up in very challenging circumstances, Connery dropped out of school at age 13 and worked as a milk delivery boy, truck driver, and even a coffin polisher. Connery eventually learned how to cash in on his good looks as a model, bodybuilder, and eventually an actor.
Over the span of six decades, Connery has appeared in dozens of films, earned a knighthood, and built a nine-figure fortune. However, according to his ex-wife Diane Cilento, none of his millions will go to his only son Jason. When asked for a reaction, Jason commented to The Telegraph to defend his father, stating he “earned this money, through nothing but his own tireless hard work, and what he does with it and who he gives it to is completely up to him.”
- Tony Curtis
Net Worth: $60 Million
Tony Curtis was an actor for five decades, appearing in dozens of films and television series from 1949 until 2008, two years before his death in 2010. Off screen, Curtis was also prolific, with six marriages, five of which ended in divorce.
After his death, his estate sold off his memorabilia for an estimated $1 million, but none of the proceeds or the rest of his estate were dedicated to his six children, including actress Jamie Lee Curtis. Instead, his will, which he reportedly re-wrote shortly before his death, specifically disinherited all six children but stopped short of supplying his rationale.
- Ted Turner
Known as: Founder of CNN, TNT, and TBS
Net Worth: $2.2 Billion
Ted Turner burst into the spotlight in the 1970s as the pioneer of 24-hours cable news with the founding of the Cable News Network (CNN). He parlayed the success of CNN into other channels, including TBS and TNT, and a range of other lucrative investments, including the Atlanta Braves and World Championship Wrestling.
Having made his fortune in the volatile, ultra-competitive world of media, Turner turned increasingly to rural America. Turner bought up huge amounts of property in the Western plains and mountains to become at one time the largest single landowner in America. Consequently, Turner has placed the highest priority on supporting environmental and conservation causes through the Turner Foundation, which he launched in 1990.
- Marlon Brando
Known as: Two-time Oscar winner
Net Worth: $100 million*
Marlon Brando is considered one of the greatest actors of all time, thanks to his chameleon-like acting skills and ability to impersonate just about anyone. The actor had a career lasting more than six decades, starting in 1944 and ending in 2004. Brando was in movies like The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, A Streetcar Named Desire, and more.
Brando passed away at the age of 80 years old. He had several kids, one of which was Christian Brando. Christian was troubled and passed before his father. Brando’s other kids were troubled as well, and Brando cut two of them out of his will.
- Andrew Carnegie
Known as: Head of the 19th-century steel industry
Net Worth: $372 billion*
Andrew Carnegie was a steel magnate who expanded the US steel industry during the late 1800s. He also was a dedicated philanthropist in the UK and the US. He was one of the richest Americans in the history of the country. Carnegie’s net worth, in today’s dollars, is estimated at over $372 billion.
Carnegie, despite his massive wealth, did not leave it all to his kids. He cut his kids out of a large portion of their inheritance, choosing instead to give his money to charity. One publication described Carnegie as having gone from Robber Baron to Robin Hood in his old age.
- Michael Jackson
Known as: The King of Pop
Net Worth: $500 million*
Michael Jackson was a singer and songwriter. He had three kids, and he was often called “The King of Pop” for his tremendous impact on pop music. Jackson died unexpectedly in 2009, leaving behind three young children, Michael Jr., Paris, and Prince. He signed his will in 2002 before his last child was born.
He did not leave all of his money to his children. He split the money between his kids, his mother, and the various charities to which he was dedicated. Michael left no money to his father, Joe, with whom he had a tumultuous relationship.
There are many more celebrities who have a better cause for their wealth than handing it down to the next generation. Hope you enjoyed the read.