Forbes recently released a ranking of the wealthiest American families, and it was found that there are 45 families worth at least $10 billion each. At the top of the list are the heirs of Walmart founder, Sam Walton, who collectively have a net worth of $267 billion, surpassing even that of Elon Musk.
The combined wealth of these 45 families totals around $1.3 trillion, which is approximately 10 times the personal fortune of Warren Buffett. The second wealthiest family on the list is the Mars family, with a fortune of $117 billion tied to the confectionery industry. Other well-known names on the list include the Koch, Lauder, Hearst, and Marriott families.
Some historically wealthy families such as the Carnegies, Vanderbilts, and Gettys have slipped from the rankings due to various reasons including stock performance, legal disputes, taxes, and charitable giving. Even the descendants of John D. Rockefeller, once the nation’s richest man, made it onto the list with a fortune of $10.3 billion.
Many of the wealthy families on the list have accumulated their fortunes through ownership of large private companies, while others still hold significant stakes in public companies. Some have even sold off their businesses, such as the Busch family selling their stake in Anheuser-Busch and the Haslam family selling their stake in Pilot Travel Centers to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
The list of the richest families suggests that the most effective way to build substantial generational wealth is to create a massive, long-lasting business, whether it remains in the family, is taken private, or is eventually sold.