Shock: I inherited money I didn't even know existed
Most potential heirs know they come from wealth, even if they don't know the amount. But in families where money is never discussed, the inheritance can still come as a shock, especially for young adults.
"I've seen dozens of examples where it (the inheritance) knocks people sideways," says Collins. "A lot of people under age 30 get an inheritance and don't get the confidence to earn their own way. In the end, that's incredibly debilitating."
Earning a living is a rite of passage into adulthood, and a shared one among peers. For those with enough money to circumvent that experience, inherited wealth is a burden, says psychologist Madeline Levine. "They are aware that they're profoundly different at an age when they want to be like everyone else."
Inheritors can take a page from Collins' book and give the fortune to charity, thus forcing themselves into the workforce. Or, says Levine, families can work to ensure heirs are prepared. One family she counsels designed what they call a "family university" to help prepare heirs.
Ultimately, Levine says, communication is the best way to stave off most money afflictions. "Why not talk? We need to change the whole notion that gentility doesn't talk about money."