Mish has an excellent post Wealth Does Not Pass Three Generations which describes what is sometimes referred to as "tired-blood" syndrome referring to the tendency of heirs of wealth to squander it.
"This is how I see it:
Few alive remember the great depression. Most boomers headed into retirement have seen rising asset prices all their lives. Those boomers thought they could live off their houses and/or investments in the stock market, expecting prices to rise forever, even though it was mathematically impossible for that to happen. Now, headed into retirement, boomers are realizing they are actually savings poor given that asset prices have crashed.
Moreover, children who have seen their parents wiped out in bankruptcy or foreclosed on are going to have a completely different attitude towards debt than their reckless parents did. Expect to see more frugality from parents and their children alike.
Three generations from now the lessons of today will have again been forgotten and the cycle will repeat."