You've Received an Inheritance, Now What?
If you've recently received an inheritance, you may be facing many important decisions. Receiving an inheritance might promote spending without planning, but don't make any hasty decisions. Here are some suggestions that could help you manage your inheritance.
Identify a Team of Trusted Professionals
Tax laws can be complicated, so you might want to consult with professionals who are familiar with assets that transfer at death. These professionals may include an attorney, an accountant, and a financial and/or insurance professional.
Consider Tax Consequences
While you might not owe income taxes on the assets you inherit, your income tax liability may eventually increase, particularly if the assets you inherit generate taxable income. For instance, distributions you receive from inherited tax-qualified plans such as 401(k)s or IRAs will likely increase your taxable income.
Also, your inheritance may increase the size of your estate to the point where it could be subject to state and/or federal transfer (estate) taxes at your death. You might need to consider ways to help reduce these potential taxes.
How You Receive Your Inheritance Makes a Difference
Your inheritance may be received through a trust, in which case you'll receive distributions according to the terms of the trust. You might not have total control over your inheritance as you would if you inherited the assets outright. If you inherit assets through a trust, it's important that you familiarize yourself with the trust document and the terms under which you are to receive trust distributions.
Develop a Financial Plan
Consider your future needs and how long you want your wealth to last. It's a good idea to take some time after inheriting money to formulate a financial plan. You'll want to consider your current lifestyle and your future needs, then formulate a financial strategy to meet short- and long-term goals.
Evaluate Your Estate Plan
Depending on the value of your inheritance, it may be appropriate to re-evaluate your estate plan. Estate planning involves conserving your money and putting it to work so that it best fulfills your goals. It also means helping reduce your exposure to potential taxes and possibly creating a comfortable financial future for your family and other intended beneficiaries.
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