During the next 30 years or so, an estimated $30 trillion is expected to change hands, and many offspring of older Baby Boomers may inherit a small fortune. Here are five practical suggestions for handling the windfall:
1. Give yourself time to grieve. If you're like most people, the loss of a loved one will come at an emotional cost. So you're probably not going to run out and buy a luxury car or book a cruise the day after the funeral. Allow yourself enough time for your grief to pass before you make any major decisions. Don't let your heart overrule your head.
2. Consider the limitations. Just because you've come into some money doesn't necessarily mean you'll be living on Easy Street. So try to resist the impulse to splurge on items you still can't afford. You might consider using some of the money for a one-time "treat" for your family and use the rest to invest for long-term goals.
3. Pay down debt. If you owe a lot of money, this could be a good opportunity to pay off some of your obligations. While you don't have to rid yourself of all of your debt—you might decide to keep your mortgage and perhaps a car loan—it could make sense to retire credit card and other debt that has high interest rates.
4. Set goals. In considering how to use your windfall, you might divide your objectives into short-, medium-, and long-term goals. For instance, in the short term you may decide to move to a bigger home. A medium-term goal might be to save money for a child's college education through a Section 529 plan. And a long-term objective for many is to secure a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.
5. Create an estate plan. If you haven't done this already, your windfall could provide an excellent opportunity to prepare for the eventual transfer of your own wealth, including the assets you've just inherited, to other family members. You might decide to establish a trust for the benefit of minors or make other arrangements to help ensure financial security for a surviving spouse or grandchildren.
Fortunately, you don't have to do all this on your own. With the help of experienced professionals, you can develop a plan that makes sense. Don't hesitate to contact us for assistance.