You may be one of the many Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers who have received an inheritance or will in the future. Studies predict that the wealth transfer from the “Greatest Generation” to their heirs will total in the trillions. If you are or will be a beneficiary, it pays to prepare yourself, as no money is more emotionally charged than inherited money.
There can be several reasons why emotional thinking can outweigh rational thoughts when it comes to inheritance. If you received it from your parents, you may recall how hard they worked for it. Your dad toiled at the office and your mom took care of the home and kids. You remember how they rarely relaxed or took a vacation, because they wanted to create a good life for you and not be a burden to you in their old age. You may feel unworthy of their largesse.
Or, an inheritance can create a rift between you and your friends or family who aren’t as fortunate. You may feel guilty about your new change in financial status. You may also feel shame about how other people, in general, have so much less than you.
My clients who have received inheritances talk about feeling anxious, relieved, worried, happy, sad, guilty, and elated. These are natural reactions and to be expected. Problems arise when emotions dictate how you spend, invest, and save the funds.
Tips for Managing an Inheritance
Take a moment to absorb some of these ideas to prepare yourself and handle this potentially life-changing event:
- Talk to a trusted professional about your feelings about the inheritance. Process them as much as possible before taking any action.
- Make a list of things/experiences you want to buy and be careful not to overspend.
- Create a plan for charitable giving and learn about giving vehicles such as donor-advised funds.
- Carefully way out the pros and cons of lending family or friends money.
- Develop a plan for investing the funds so as to earn a good return.
- Do some financial planning. This windfall may be just what you needed to fund your retirement.