Preventing Affluenza Among The Wealthy – Challenges and Opportunities

Dr Ronit Meshie Mai Lami
Created by Dr Ronit Meshie Mai Lami
On Sep 26, 2019
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Preventing Affluenza Among The Wealthy – Challenges and Opportunities

It was not long ago when Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old boy, who was driving his truck under the influence of alcohol (more than three times over the legal drinking limit)—hit and killed four people: 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell and three other good Samaritans who were assisting her. Ethan later pleaded guilty for “affluenza”.

What is Affluenza?

Affluenza is a term coined from a mash-up of two words "affluence" and "influenza. Although the term is often used sarcastically, affluenza isn’t a joke. It is a condition in which people feel unfulfilled, overloaded, and stressed due to the constant desire to be wealthy and acquire more and more material possessions. In the United States, in particular, affluenza is rampant as most of us place high priority on money and material possessions. A lot of wealth and a single-minded focus on the pursuit of money and status can cause real problems in families, such as anxiety, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, depression, and even self-injuries.

How to prevent kids from getting Affluenza

Families are made up of people with different strengths and vulnerabilities. Thus, without good communication and emotional intelligence, the best-laid plans can become victims of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Parents should teach their kids the value of non-material things in a “gimme” world. They need to ensure that their kids do not develop bad financial habits while they are still young, when they leave home to head into college, when they get their first job, or even when they start building their own wealth. Another important thing parents can do to nudge children toward solid values is having incentive trusts in place. Your trust will mandate certain benchmarks to be accomplished before funds are distributed to beneficiaries, such as graduating from college and getting a full-time job.

How a wealth expert witness can help families ensure better estate planning, and prevent Affluenza

Because families are complex ecosystems, generally there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for successful estate planning and preventing affluenza. A wealth expert witness can help prevent affluenza by overcoming hurdles to progression and performance in your business as well as your personal life. A professional specializing in family wealth and business consulting can provide tailor-made solutions to match the particular needs of your family with the ‘non-financial’ challenges wealth presents across generations and culture.