Those expecting an inheritance should be patient. It’s essential to set a budget and seek advice from experts with this kind of money.
A large inheritance is often viewed as a mixed blessing. It usually occurs after the death of a loved one, when you are grieving and trying to settle the deceased’s financial and legal issues.
While it’s impossible to know what will be left to you, there are some basic things to keep in mind whether you’ve inherited something or are expecting to deal with the challenges that inheritors confront.
Settling their inheritance can seem impossible when a deceased person’s affairs are in disarray. Approximately 48% of American people, according to Gallup, do not have a will.
Assets kept in trust can keep them out of probate, but there might still be complications with trust distributions. That’s one reason why closing an estate can go on for months, if not years. Understanding this will help you set reasonable expectations for when you can expect to receive your inheritance.
The person appointed to administer the will (the executor) is responsible for notifying heirs and other interested parties, paying any outstanding bills, closing any accounts, taking an inventory of all assets, and determining whether or not any assets that are not included in the will need to go through probate. The next step is to file tax paperwork with the IRS. Once those details are settled, the estate’s assets may be dispersed.
Get things done at your own pace. Inheriting a large sum of money can make you feel like you’ve struck it rich, and as a result, you could be tempted to approach the money differently.
This is a common cognitive bias known as mental accounting. Mental accounting’s credited creator, psychologist Richard Thaler, conducted a study that revealed people were more likely to spend a modest inheritance and save a sizable one. How money is spent (or saved) depends on several factors, including these, but it’s essential to give every dollar the same value, regardless of where it came from or what it’s going to be used for.
You can invest the money in valuable things, such as future security measures. It’s not a good idea to immediately blow your inheritance on frivolous purchases; instead, you should prioritize things like establishing an emergency fund, eliminating high-interest debt, and saving for the future.
After taking care of your essential financial obligations, you can start fantasizing about how to spend your spare change. You could take a trip to a place that held significant meaning for the two of you, or you could donate to an important charity to your friend or family member. There may be a frivolous item that has always caught your eye. When your mind is free from the stress of competing for financial goals, all of these experiences become that much richer.
Inheritance laws are often complex. Inheritors may be eligible for a tax benefit known as a “step-up in basis” if certain conditions are met. In this way, heirs might have the value of their inheritance set at the property’s fair market value as of the decedent’s date of death rather than the lesser price at which it was initially acquired. This tactic reduces the money lost to taxes on the appreciation of assets received as an inheritance.
Inheritance rules can be intricate and nuanced, which is why this may sound unfamiliar. Your estate planning attorney can help you determine if this or any other potential advantage applies to your situation. Consultation with experts in the field can help you legally and efficiently handle all of the estate documentation.
Federal estate taxes can reach 40%, but you will only have to pay them once you inherit more than the exemption limit (currently $12.92 million in 2023). A CPA can help you make sense of the complex rules, which can have serious financial consequences if you break them. In addition to federal estate and inheritance taxes, there are state taxes to consider; if you live in one of the 18 states that impose such taxes, you should educate yourself and get professional assistance.
When you inherit money, you have the chance to improve your own life. Make a plan that considers your current financial situation and your long-term objectives. Investing in your future success is a fitting tribute to the departed.