Spending more than you earn is a problem, but spending less than you earn could turn into a bigger headache – and heartache as well – because there will always be people who will be after your money.
Indeed, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but leaves it to his squabbling wives, children and mistresses?
This thought came to us after Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau Luen-hung hogged headlines this week with his not-so-flattering revelations about his ex-girlfriend Yvonne Lui Lai-Kwan.
How a man spends his money is his concern, but members of the hoi polloi cannot help but let their jaws drop after hearing the sums of money being mentioned in this saga.
Lau, who is recovering well from a liver transplant, apparently has had enough of his erstwhile romantic partner, whom he described as “greedy” for allegedly asking for more even after showering her with money, jewelry and other gifts worth at least HK$2 billion (or HK$3 billion, by other people’s estimate).
Apparently, he’s anticipating some bitter fight over his estate, especially after his revelations, and he has deposited in the bank HK$5 billion each for his son Ming-wai and current girlfriend Kimbie Chan Hoi-wan just in case there’s a lawsuit.
The flamboyant playboy and now fugitive tycoon built his fortune on corporate buyouts and property investments, and is known for dating top beauties and buying diamonds, private jets and Picassos.
In some ways, he is a media darling like US President-elect Donald Trump, except that he is not involved in politics.
In fact, he could not because he was convicted of corruption in Macau last year.
But the 65-year-old businessman apparently has learned life lessons from fellow tycoons.
There’s the late Nina Wang, once regarded as Asia’s richest woman, who left to charity a HK100 billion estate, most from her shares in her property empire Chinachem, after her former fortune-teller and alleged boyfriend Peter Chan Chun-chuen, a.k.a. Tony Chan, tried to claim her assets and ended up in jail.
There’s also Chen Din-hwa, the former chairman of Chinachem rival Nan Fung Holdings, whose daughters engaged in a legal battle for the company’s ownership, revealing lurid secrets about the family, including allegations of his granddaughter’s molestation.
Stories of what happened to these two property moguls in the past decade could also serve as a reminder to other high-net-worth individuals to plan their estates as soon as possible before any whiff of trouble comes in.
Some are easy to deal with.
The late New World Development founder Cheng Yu-tung had had no succession problem, having passed on all of his estate to his son Henry.
Henry Cheng was reported to have kids out of wedlock, but that seems to be a minor issue.
Now all eyes are on the 94-year-old Stanley Ho Hung-sun and how he will divide his remaining assets among his wives and children.
Apparently, most of his assets have already been passed to daughter Pansy and son Lawrence.
Hong Kong’s top billionaire Li Ka-shing has divided his empire into three with his two sons Victor and Richard said to be entitled to a third each of his trust.
He has also set up a foundation to channel some of his assets to charity and other worthwhile causes.
Generally speaking, local tycoons appear to be lagging behind their American counterparts in terms of donating a portion of their wealth to charity.
Indeed, if there’s anything that we can learn from the lives of wealthy people, it is that we must give back to society what we have gained or become.
That’s a simple, but noble, solution to a complicated problem.
After all, it is better to give than to receive, right?
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