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How Should I Handle an Inheritance?

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Although you may be excited about the prospect of receiving unexpected money, there are certain financial moves experts say you should make to make sure you're prepared for that inheritance.

An inheritance can be bittersweet. It’s nice to receive a lump sum of money, but it likely means you have lost a loved one.

While you may be excited about the prospect of receiving unexpected money, there are certain financial moves you should make to make sure you’re prepared when you do get your inheritance.

Be patient and cautious

When you hear that you’ll be getting an inheritance, know that you’re probably not going to receive a check that week. This process can be slow. When you do get your money, take some time to consider what you want to do with this gift.

Seek out expert advice

Work with professional advisors, such as an experienced estate planning attorney to navigate the financial and legal implications of your inheritance. One task is to set up an account for your retirement because you don’t want to lose it or blow it.

An attorney can help you with tax implications you must consider. Estate taxes have become less of an issue, as a result of recent changes to the lifetime exemption amount. However, certain parts of an inheritance can trigger significant income taxes. An experienced estate planning attorney can explain how both federal estate taxes and any applicable state inheritance taxes may impact your inheritance.

Update your estate plan

Even if your inheritance isn’t going to make you an Elon Musk, take that time to review and update your own current estate plan.

In addition to impacting the way in which your family might inherit from you, getting an inheritance might make you to consider other alternatives for disposing of your own estate, like charitable contributions.

If the inheritance you’re receiving is significant, the chance that your own children or family will inherit a larger amount could also require additional planning.