Therapy Available in SF, Marin and Online
870 Market Street #357, San Francisco, CA 94102 | 200 Tamal Plaza #235, Corte Madera, CA 94925

We all know the clichés about money. But, the thing about clichés is that they are very often based on truth. So, when you get word that your family is about to navigate a transfer of wealth or you experience a sudden windfall, you’re wise to feel the need for caution. Money can change people, divide loved ones, and make us lose all perspective.

Don’t get me wrong. A transfer of wealth or sudden windfall like some in the bay area experience via stock options can be a positive development. However, it brings with it myriad complications that will test your patience and willpower. Still, like every challenge, this situation can be met with preparation and vision. Let’s explore the possibilities.

How Money Can Change People

It may sound judgmental to say money can change people for the worst. But there is research to back up this assertion. Studies have found that wealthy people often display less compassion and empathy. In addition, they are more likely to downplay:

  • How luck, family connections, or social dynamics played a big role in their wealth
  • The struggles of those with financial issues

They simply cannot understand why others are affluent like them and cannot relate to the suffering caused by a lack of money.

Why is this relevant? Well, when members of your family enter the realm of the wealthy, there is a reasonable chance that they too will exhibit such perspectives. Therefore, a transfer of wealth would increase the risk of friction and conflict.  Factoring this into your choices is an important step toward maintaining some peace in your life. Here are some other steps to consider

How to Deal With Family Conflict When There is a Transfer Of Wealth
Prepare Yourself — Practically and Emotionally

Brace yourself for the possibility that loved ones will display behavior that is unpleasant. To do this requires some time and patience. That’s where therapy will be essential (see below). But also, dig deep and do your homework on transfers of wealth. Cross-reference reputable sites and engage in some serious self-education.

Share What You Learn

All that self-education is wasted if not shared. This is not to assume everyone in your family will be open to hearing about it. Still, it is your responsibility to give them all a chance to get on board and share what they have learned.

But Don’t Volunteer to Be “In Charge”

Your homework might put you in the position of taking the lead. This is fine — within limits. As stated, you must do the work and share what you discover. But it is flirting with disaster to have one family member assume more responsibility than the others. Find a delicate balance of being informed but not being “the boss.”

Consult With Experts

Even if appears you’re doing the bulk of the work, there’s another task for you: Find experts in the form of financial advisors and lawyers. There is so much nuance to something like a transfer of wealth. You will need a team of people who do this on a regular basis. Find some possible candidates and then talk with your family about them if you feel that it would be helpful and warranted for your situation.

You’ll Need More Than a Financial Advisor

Obviously, a financial advisor and a lawyer will be necessary. Even if you or someone in the family is a financial advisor or a lawyer, you will need an outside expert to avoid even more drama. However, this is not the only outside expert who can help.

Connect with a therapist. Your emotions should not take a backseat to financial concerns. Be sure to prioritize both. Newfound wealth always changes the dynamics in relationships.  Therapists help clients understand and create relationships that work for them.  Your weekly sessions will offer solace and comfort during a roller coaster of an experience. A transfer of wealth or sudden windfall should be positive so why not consult with someone who can help make this transition work for you and your family as well as possible.

You can also get the latest info by following me on Facebook.


Therapy for Men is a practice led by Dr. Rick Pomfret which offers counseling and psychotherapy services tailored to the needs of men. Their services encompass anxiety therapy, depression therapy, relationship therapy, men’s issues and support for those navigating life transitions or divorce. With offices in San Francisco and Corte Madera, Therapy4Men provides convenient access to mental health care for men in the Bay Area and online across California.