Anticipating an inheritance can be an emotionally complicated undertaking. Losing a loved one can be frightening beforehand and upsetting afterward, and adding monetary gain to the equation can lead to a disorienting mix of feelings. Compounding the challenges of the process, most people don’t adjust easily—or wisely—to sudden changes in their financial status. In fact, about a third of Americans who receive an inheritance spend it completely within two years. Here are a few practical tips that can help you make the most of your financial circumstances.
- Move slowly and thoughtfully. Don’t rush into decisions about your inheritance. Take steps only when you are emotionally ready. Engage in self-care, which may involve counseling, meditation, or family and spiritual support.
- Obtain sound advice. Before you decide to pay off a debt, invest in a business, or anything else, seek professional guidance. This is especially helpful and necessary if you have never managed a large amount of money in the past. If you are receiving certain types of benefits or tax breaks, your inheritance may interfere with your eligibility, so consult an attorney as you move forward.
- Identify your responsibilities. There may be restrictions or strings attached to your inheritance, so investigate this possibility. You may be set to receive the assets outright, or you may need to rely on the discretion of a trustee regarding the distribution and the amount. In either case, turn to your estate planning attorney for solutions and options. Your attorney can also help you address your state’s inheritance tax, if one exists.
- Update your estate plan. Have a financial professional sit with you to review the balance and mix of your portfolio after the arrival of your inheritance. Adjustments may be necessary in order to make sure your loved ones and beneficiaries are protected.
- Act in advance. If you haven’t received an inheritance but expect to in the future, you may want to work collectively with the person who will be leaving you the inheritance and your estate planning attorney. This can be a difficult topic to discuss, but you may gain long term asset protection by creating an “inheritor’s trust”.
Reach out for Help
Avoid misusing your inherited (or soon-to-be-inherited) assets by staying focused on your long and short-term financial goals. Contact our team to stay informed and fully understand your legal and financial options.