For many older Americans, a key estate planning goal centers on passing wealth and property down to children and grandchildren. Over the course of the next three to four decades, financial experts estimate that baby boomers will pass on upwards of $30 trillion to heirs. For those individuals on the receiving end of an inheritance, it’s wise to take steps to safeguard against potential pitfalls and to seek the advice and counsel of a financial and estate planning professional.
For anyone that has struggled with financial difficulties in the past, a sudden inheritance may tempt one to run out and spend freely. Doing so, however, is almost always a bad idea and can result in inherited assets quickly being depleted and not invested wisely for one’s own future needs.
In addition to resisting the temptation to freely spend one’s newly inherited wealth, heirs and beneficiaries are also advised to be cautious when it comes to quitting a job or, in some cases, depositing assets directly into a bank account. For example, government-funded programs like Social Security Disability have strict income limits that an individual who inherits assets in their name, may have stripped away. It’s always best, therefore, to leave heirs who are disabled or have special needs assets via a trust.
Likewise, even when an inheritance is sizable in nature, individuals are advised not to be hasty when it comes to early retirement decisions. In addition to questions related to what, if no longer working, an individual would do with his or her time; the loss of other job-related benefits must also be considered and weighed prior to making any hasty decisions.
In addition to spending newly-inherited assets on oneself, individuals who inherit a windfall would also be wise to avoid being overly charitable to friends or pet causes. There are numerous, and much smarter, ways to incorporate charitable donations into an estate plan that can maximize one’s giving power and even create an income stream of which one’s charitable cause of choice can be named the benefactor.
Source: US News & World Report, “5 Inheritance Mistakes for Heirs to Avoid,” Susan Johnston Taylor, July 15, 2014