You just learned of the passing of a loved one. During this stressful and emotionally taxing time, you also find out that you’re receiving an inheritance. While you’re grateful for the unexpected windfall, knowing what to do with an inheritance can bring its own share of stress.
While the amounts vary greatly, the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances reports that an average of roughly 1.7 million households receive an inheritance each year. First words of wisdomâresist the urge to spend it all at once. According to a study funded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one-third of people who receive an inheritance spend all of itâand even dip into other savingsâin the first two years.
Not me, you say? Still, you might be asking, “What should I do with my inheritance money?” Follow these four steps to help you make smart decisions with your newfound wealth:
1. Take time to grieve your loss
Deciding what to do with an inheritance can bring with it mixed emotions: a sense of reprieve for this unexpected financial gain and sadness for the loss of a loved one, says Robert Pagliarini, certified financial planner and president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors.
During this time, you might feel confused, upset and overwhelmed. âA large inheritance that pushes you out of your financial comfort zone can create anxiety about how to best manage the money,” Pagliarini says. As an inheritor, Pagliarini adds that you may feel the need to be extra careful with the funds; even though you know it is your money, it could feel borrowed.
The last thing you want to do when deciding what to do with an inheritance is make financial decisions under an emotional haze. Avoid making any drastic moves right away, such as quitting your job or selling your home. Some experts suggest giving yourself a six-month buffer before using any of your inheritance, using the time instead to develop a financial plan. While you are thinking about things to do with an inheritance, you can park any funds in a high-yield savings account or certificate of deposit.
âA large inheritance that pushes you out of your financial comfort zone can create anxiety about how to best manage the money.â
2. Know what you’re inheriting
Before you determine the things to do with an inheritance, you need to know what you’re getting. Certified financial planner and wealth manager Alex Caswell says how you use your inheritance will largely depend on its source. Typically, Caswell says an inheritance will come in the form of assets from one of three places:
Real estate, such as a house or property. As Caswell explains, if you receive assets from real estate, you will transfer them into your name. As the inheritor, you can choose what to do with the assetsâtypically sell, rent or live in them.
A trust account, a legal arrangement through which funds are held by a third party (the trustee) for the benefit of another party (the beneficiary), which may be an individual or a group. The creator of the trust is known as a grantor. âIf someone inherits assets through a trust, the trust documents will stipulate how these assets will be distributed and who ultimately decides how they are to be invested,” Caswell says. In some cases, the assets get distributed outright to you; in other instances, the trust stays intact and you get paid in installments.
A retirement account, such as an IRA, Roth IRA or 401(k). These accounts can be distributed in one lump sum, however, there may be requirements related to the amount of a distribution and the cadence of distributions.
When considering things to do with an inheritance, know that inherited assets can be designated as Transfer on Death (TOD) or beneficiary deeds (in the case of real estate), which means the assets can be transferred to beneficiaries without the often lengthy probate process. An individual may also bequeath cash or valuables, like jewelry or family heirlooms, as well as life insurance or stock certificates.
Caswell says if your inheritance comes in the form of investment assets, such as stocks or mutual funds, you’ll want to think of them as part of your own financial picture. âAll too often, we see individuals end up treating inherited assets as a living extension of their passed relative,” Caswell says. Consider how the investments can be used to support your financial goals when thinking about things to do when you get an inheritance.
An average of roughly 1.7 million households receive an inheritance each year.
3. Plan what to do with your financial gain
Just like doing your household budgeting, it’s important to “assign” your inheritance to specific purposes or goals, says Pacifica Wealth Advisors’ Pagliarini. Depending on your financial situation, the simple concepts of save, spend and give may be a good place to start when deciding on things to do when you get an inheritance:
Bolster your emergency fund: You should have at least three to six months of living expenses saved up to avoid unexpected financial shocks, such as job loss, car repairs or medical expenses. If you don’t and you’re deciding what things to do with an inheritance, consider parking some cash in this bucket.
Save for big goals: Now could be a good time to boost your long-term savings goals and pay it forward. Things to do when you get an inheritance could include putting money toward a child’s college fund or getting your retirement savings on track.
Tackle debt: If you’re evaluating what to do with an inheritance, high-interest debt is something you could consider paying off. Spending on debt repayment can help you save on hefty interest charges.
Reduce or pay off your mortgage: Getting closer to paying off your homeâor paying it off entirelyâcan also save you in interest and significantly lower your monthly expenses. Allocating cash here is a win-win.
Enjoy a little bit of it: It’s okay to use a portion of your inheritance on something you enjoy or find rewarding. Planning a vacation, investing in more education or paying for a big purchase could be good moves.
Donate funds to charity: Thinking about your loved one’s causes or your own can continue legacy goals and provide tax benefits.
When deciding what to do with an inheritance, taxes will need to be considered. “It is extremely important to be aware of all tax ramifications of any decision around inherited assets,” Caswell says. You could be required to pay a capital gains tax if you sell the gift (like property) that was passed down to you, for example. Also, depending on where you live, your inherited money could be taxed. In addition to federal estate taxes, several U.S. states impose an inheritance tax and/or an estate tax.
Since every situation is unique and tax laws can change, when considering things to do with an inheritance, consult a financial advisor or tax professional for guidance.
Make your windfall count
Receiving an inheritance has the potential to change your financial picture for good. When thinking about the things to do when you get an inheritance, be sure to give yourself ample time to grieve and to understand all of your options. Don’t be afraid to lean on the experts to get up to speed on any tax and legal implications you need to consider.
Planning can go a long way toward making the right decisions concerning your newfound wealth. Being responsible with your inheritance not only helps ensure your financial future, but will also honor your loved one’s legacy.
The post 4 Smart Things to Do When You Get an Inheritance appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Life in the military offers some distinct experiences compared to civilian life, and that includes your budget and finances. The pre-deployment process can feel overwhelming, especially when youâre organizing your money and bills.Â
Itâs important you provide your family with everything they need to keep you and any dependents comfortable and stable. This means gathering paperwork, making phone calls to service providers, creating new budgets, and organizing your estate. The more you prepare ahead of time, the less you have to worry about the state of your investments and finances when you return home.Â
To help make the process easier, weâve gathered everything you need to know for deployment finances. Read on or jump to a specific category below:
Review Your Estate
Reassign Financial Responsibilities
Update Your Services
Build a Budget
Prepare a Deployment Binder
Protect Yourself From Fraud
Adjust Your Savings
Update Your Budget
Pay Off Debt
Review Legal Documents
Before Your Deployment
Thereâs a lot of paperwork and emotions involved in preparing for deployment. Make sure you take plenty of time for yourself and your loved ones, then schedule time to organize your finances for some peace of mind.Â
investments, and dependents. Itâs an important conversation to have with your partner and establishes:
Power of attorney
Last will and testament
Anyone with property, wealth, or dependents should have some estate planning basics secured. These documents will protect your wishes and your family in the event you suffer serious injury. There are several military resources to help you prepare your estate:
Defense Finance And Accounting Servicesâ Survivor Benefit Plan and Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan
Department Of Defenseâs Military Funeral Honors Pre-arrangementÂ
Service Memberâs Group Life Insurance
Veterans Affairs Survivorâs Benefits
The Importance Of Estate Planning In The Military
Survivor Benefits Calculator
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows you to cancel a housing or auto lease, cancel your phone service, and avoid foreclosure on a home you own without penalties. Additionally, you can reduce your debt interest rates while youâre deployed, giving you a leg up on debt repayment or savings goals. Learn more about the SCRA benefits below:
Terminating Your Lease For Deployment
SCRA Interest Rate Limits
SCRA Benefits And Legal Guidance
Build a Deployment Budget
Your pay may change during and after deployment, which means itâs time to update your budget. Use a deployment calculator to estimate how your pay will change to get a foundation for your budget.Â
Typically, we recommend you put 50 percent of your pay towards needs, like rent and groceries. If you donât have anyone relying on your income, then you should consider splitting this chunk of change between your savings accounts and debt.Â
Make sure you continue to deposit at least 20 percent of your pay into savings, too. Send some of this towards an emergency fund, while the rest can go towards your larger savings goals, like buying a house and retirement.Â
Use these resources to help calculate your goals and budgets, as well as planning for your taxes:
My Army Benefits Deployment Calculator
My Army Benefits Retirement Calculator
Mint Budget Calculator
IRS Deployed Veteran Tax Extension
IRS Military Tax Resources
Combat Zone Tax Exclusions
Prepare a Deployment Binder
Itâs best to organize and arrange all of your documents, information, and needs into a deployment binder for your family. This will hold copies of your estate planning documents, budget information, and additional contacts and documents.Â
Make copies of your personal documents, like birth certificates, contracts, bank information, and more. You also want to list important contacts like family doctors, your petâs veterinarian, household contacts, and your power of attorney.Â
Once you have your book ready, give it to your most trusted friend or family member. Again, this point of contact will have a lot of information about you that needs to stay secure. Finish it off with any instructions or to-dos for while youâre gone, and your finances should be secure for your leave.Â
While Youâre Deployed
Though most of your needs are taken care of before you deploy, there are a few things to settle while youâre away from home.Â
Romance and identity scams are especially popular and can cost you thousands.Â
Social Media Scams To Watch For
Romance Scam Red Flags
Military Scam Warning Signs
Adjust Your SavingsÂ
Since you wonât be responsible for as many bills, and you may have reduced debt interest rates, deployment is the perfect time to build your savings.
While youâre deployed, you may be eligible for the Department of Defenseâs Savings Deposit Program (SDP), which offers up to 10 percent interest. This is available to service members deployed to designated combat zones and those receiving hostile fire pay.
Military and federal government employees are also eligible for the Thrift Savings Plan. This is a supplementary retirement savings to your Civil Service Retirement System plan.
Savings Deposit Program
Thrift Savings Plan Calculator
Civil Service Retirement System
Military Saves Resources
Additional Resources for Financial Assistance
Deployment can be a financially and emotionally difficult time for families of service members. Make sure you and your family have easy access to financial aid in case they find themselves in need.Â
Each individual branch of the military offers its own family and financial resources. You can find additional care through local support systems and national organizations, like Military OneSource and the American Legion.Â
Family Readiness System
Navy-marine Corps Relief Society
Air Force Aid Society
Army Emergency Relief
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
Military Onesourceâs Financial Live Chat
Find Your Military And Family Support Center
Emergency Loans Through Military Heroes Fund Foundation Programs
The American Legion Family Support Network
After You Return Home
Coming home after deployment may be a rush of emotions. Relief, exhaustion, excitement, and lots of celebration are sure to come with it. Thereâs a lot to consider with reintegration after deployment, and that includes taking another look at your finances.Â
Update Your Budget
Just like before deployment, you should update your budget to account for your new spending needs and pay. Itâs time to reinstate your car insurance, find housing, and plan your monthly grocery budget.Â
After a boost in savings while deployed, you may want to treat yourself to something nice â which is totally okay! The key is to decide what you want for yourself or your family, figure if itâs reasonable while maintaining other savings goals, like your rainy day fund, and limit other frivolous purchases. Now is not the time to go on a spending spree â itâs best to invest this money into education savings, retirement, and other long-term plans.
In addition to your savings goals, make sure youâre prepared to take care of yours and your familyâs health. Prioritize your mental health after deployment and speak with a counselor, join support groups, and prepare for reintegration. Your family and children may also have a hard time adjusting, so consider their needs and seek out resources as well.Â
FTC | NFCCÂ
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