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When you learn that you are the recipient of an inheritance, you may experience conflicting emotions of thankfulness and sadness. Here are some things to consider before making any major choices.


Receiving an inheritance is often difficult. While an infusion of wealth or other assets may be beneficial, it may occur at a period of mourning for the loss of a loved one. Furthermore, depending on the assets and other variables, you may be confused or puzzled about the repercussions or best course of action.

“People should grasp how life-changing an inheritance can be, and make sure they understand what they’re giving up if they spend it too soon,” says Liz Windisch, founder of Aspen Financial Management in Centennial, Colorado. “They often burn through inheritances quickly, therefore people should consider their long-term life or retirement objectives.” She believes it is critical to consider how this money fits into the wider picture of your life objectives.

Here are six things to consider while dealing with an inheritance.

What You Should Know If You Inherit Assets

The first consideration is the sort of asset you are inheriting, since you may need to prepare for or handle it differently. Some prevalent sorts of inherited assets and considerations, according to Windisch, include:

Cash. Although inherited cash is not taxed as income, it may be subject to federal or state inheritance or estate taxes if it exceeds specified thresholds.

Accounts for retirement. This is the most difficult sort of inheritance. Traditional retirement funds, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, are taxable as income, but Roth accounts are not. Depending on your connection with the dead, you must withdraw the funds from the account within a certain time range. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which took effect on January 1, 2020, raised the 10-year requirement for many individuals and made other modifications to retirement funds.

Either securities or real estate. When the owner dies, the value of securities and real estate is adjusted by a “step-up in basis.” This value adjustment becomes the new baseline, and the individual receiving these assets only pays taxes on growth from that point forward.

Insurance on one’s life. The profits of a life insurance policy are normally tax-free to the recipient

You’ll have a better understanding of the time period you’re dealing with after you understand the sort of asset you’re inheriting and the possible tax repercussions. While you may receive a transfer of assets in the near future, you should defer making any choices regarding the next steps, according to certified financial planner Patti Black, a partner at Bridgeworth, LLC, a financial planning business in Birmingham, Ala.

She suggests that you may still be mourning and not be in the right state of mind to make choices. And, if the inheritance is substantial, it’s a good idea to get advice from a financial planner, tax attorney, insurance agent, or a combination of these professionals.

“Find someone who can sit down with you and look at the big picture and help you make choices,” she advises. For example, how will you determine whether to pay off debt, save for college or retirement, or invest the inheritance? If you don’t need the money, you might give it to charity or divide it among family members. These are choices that need forethought and careful consideration.

Considering the Future

Your inheritance may also enable you to make long-term financial choices. For example, if you get a big asset transfer, you may want to consider establishing a trust, which is normally done by an estate planning attorney, to protect your assets and provide for beneficiaries, who might include family members or charity organisations. You may also wish to make other sorts of investments to commemorate the individual who gave you the gift. You might also elect to sell the assets and utilise the cash to start a new firm.