In a wood-paneled classroom at the Wharton School, about 30 wealthy people waited patiently, making small talk with a neighboring person and drinking bottled water. Notepads and slideshow printouts lay before them.

As class began, they turned to their teacher, Stacy Allred, as she lectured on best practices of stewarding family wealth. The group was attending a financial education boot camp run by Merrill Lynch’s elite Private Banking & Investment Group, which caters to clients with $10 million or more in assets. She noted that many families see their wealth quickly dissipate after three generations. The culprit? Communication breakdowns between family members and inadequately prepared heirs.

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