The Multigenerational Wealth Planning: The Rockefellers

By Trust & Will 

The Rockefellers 

The Rockefeller family is one of the most well-known families in U.S. history. You may have heard of their name splashed upon famous buildings and institutions, such as the Rockefeller Center, Rockefeller University, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Their long-sustained legacy is what makes this prominent family a prime example of what it means to create and preserve generational wealth.  

How It Started 

The Rockefeller fortune began when John D. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870. The company would go on to control 90 percent of U.S. refineries and pipelines. According to the World Scholarship Forum, Rockefeller became the richest man in the world, and one of the first to make billions. The family fortune was valued at over $600 billion in today’s dollars. 

The Standard Oil Company would later evolve into the ExxonMobil and Chevron corporations that everyone knows today. The Rockefellers also developed one of the first major business trusts, which controlled Chase Manhattan Bank, now known as Chase Bank. 

The Rockefellers went on to establish themselves as industrialists and philanthropists throughout U.S. history. 

How It’s Going 

According to Forbes, the Rockefeller family’s net worth is currently valued at $8.4 billion, which is spread out amongst over 70 heirs.  

Rockefeller himself is said to have gifted over $500 million in charities, and the family ethos of philanthropy holds strong today. Various Rockefeller family trusts have helped fund projects ranging from arts, conversation, healthcare, and international trade.  

The most prominent family member of the modern era was David Rockefeller, who passed away in 2017. At the age of 101, he was not only the family’s wealthiest member valued at $3.3 billion, but was the world’s oldest billionaire. He earmarked most of his fortune toward good causes, and his son David Jr. chairs the family foundation. Other prominent descendants include fashion designer Ariana Rockefeller and retired politician Jay Rockefeller. 

The Rockefeller Estate Plan 

The majority of the family fortune was held in two trusts, the 1934 Family Trust and 1952 Trust, managed by Chase Bank. Both of these Trusts hold interests in the descendants of the Standard Oil company, plus other investments such as real estate.  

The fortune amassed was so large that the family founded Rockefeller Financial Services, which enlists professional money managers to oversee the holding company. This entity has five separate arms, each of them overseeing various wealth-building activities such as investments, venture capital, family businesses, family liability insurance, and risk management. 

The ‘Rockefeller Method’ of estate planning has succeeded for over six generations through a careful family constitution and irrevocable trusts. In addition, the family ensured that the trusts remained well-funded using the proceeds of life insurance policies for each passing family member.