Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Book Review, Trusts, Monopoly

Today’s episode starts with the review of a book by Ron Chernow entitled, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. It’s a biography book of the business magnate, philanthropist, and widely considered as the wealthiest American of all time, John D. Rockefeller Sr.
Atty. Chris also mentions Trusts and Monopoly as the episode continues and gives his insights into these matters.



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Episode Transcript


52 Books

Hey everyone. Chris Berry with Castle Wealth Group. And today I’m going to talk about John Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller, a book I read called Titan and how that relates to trusts and estate planning. So if you like this content, feel free to subscribe. We’re going to put it out daily. It’s going to be a big commitment, but I do like to provide the education.

Christopher Berry is a leading estate attorney and advisor in the area of retirement and legacy planning. He has been featured in publications, such as Forbes, Kiplinger’s, Crain’s Detroit and more. He’s the host of the weekly radio show and podcast, The Chris Berry Show. He’s a national thought leader as it relates to retirement and legacy planning and has author of the Amazon best selling book, The Caregiver’s Legal Guide.

So one of my resolutions this year, and I always have goals whenever we’re moving into another year, is to read 52 books. So basically a book a week. And I started with a pretty big one here called Titan, which was a great read if you’re interested in this type of stuff. My kids were pretty impressed with the size of the book. It was just over 670 pages. So some light reading, right? And I was talking to my parents about it and they’re kind of making fun of me a little bit, but I was always interested in history and great people. And especially as it relates to what I do in practicing law and being an advisor, money and trusts and investments. And a lot of people when they hear the word trust, they think that only the rich and famous or the super secretive like the John D. Rockefeller’s of the world need to have a trust.


Why People Need a Trust

Well, there’s different reasons to have a trust. And really when I read the book, it was interesting because of the interplay between companies, LLCs, and trusts. And really they use trusts to get around a lot of state laws where back in the twenties and even before you could not have a multi-state business. And so the way they got around that was that they would use these trusts. And then also it was interesting reading the book as it relates to monopolies, and the big monopoly for the Rockefeller’s was Standard Oil. And they also use a combination of LLCs and trusts to try to hide kind of who the real owners of different things were. But I really thought the book was interesting for two reasons. One is the introduction of the use of trusts. Now, today, most people use trusts to avoid probate, maybe some asset protection reasons, protect against long-term care costs, make sure that things pass down to the next generation as efficiently and effectively as possible.

So I think a lot of people do need a trust. Now that said a lot of the trusts I see you might not need. So there’s a lot of what I call basic revocable living trusts that just say, once my kids reach a certain age it goes outright to them. Well, if your kids are over the age of 35 and you trust them, then maybe you don’t need a basic revocable trust. But if you want to build in protections from if they were to get divorced where the money, half of it could go to a spouse, or if they were to pass away all that money might go to a spouse. Or if you wanted to build an asset protection for yourself, then maybe you’d want a trust. So there’s basic trusts and there’s more complicated trusts. And obviously when we’re talking about John D. Rockefeller and the wealth that this man, he had a very complex set of trusts and companies.

And I’m not saying everyone needs that by any means, but our approach is always figure out what are your goals? Let’s develop the strategies to help you achieve the goals and then pick the right tools. So I was talking about this book Titan, and it was interesting because of the use of trusts. And then also it was interesting just from a political standpoint or financial standpoint, because this is kind of the beginnings of monopolies. And as I was reading it, I was just reflecting on kind of our current status, where you look at these big companies like Amazons and the Googles of the world and the Facebooks. And just as I was finishing up the book, I just saw antitrust suits brought against, I think it was a Google. And it’s an interesting concept. And myself, I consider myself pretty libertarian as it relates to allowing companies to make profits.


Darwin Type Environment

And the interesting thing is that this books kind of changed my thoughts a little bit to a certain extent that I view business almost like a Darwin type environment where a good business is going to grow, a business that maybe doesn’t serve their customers well is going to shrink. But what happens when a business grows so big that now they have so much control? Is too much control a bad thing? I don’t have an answer to it. It was just an interesting concept that kind of changed or opened a door, I guess, in my belief with regards to businesses and whether the government should intervene or not. I’m not saying that I’ve changed my mind on things, but it certainly opened up some interesting questions. So again, this is a little bit of a book review today on this book, Titan, all about John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow. I’m probably pronouncing his name wrong. But it was interesting because of the idea of trusts and how he used trusts and companies to achieve his goals, which is very important. It was interesting how he grew his wealth and became one of the richest.

And his philanthropy also was an interesting piece of this, as how he gave to charities and set up foundations. And then just from a business standpoint the concept of monopoly. So a really interesting book, hope you enjoyed this video today, planning on doing plenty more of this year. So we’re looking at putting out at least one a day. My goal is to have 366 videos done by the end of the year. So if you want more of me, feel free to subscribe or join us on our Weekly Wisdom Webinars. This has been Chris Berry with Castle Wealth Group. Take care.

Castle Wealth Group has clients across the nation and helps them plan, protect, and preserve what is important by creating a retirement and legacy blueprint.


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