If you’ve just inherited a substantial amount of money or other assets from a parent or other elderly loved one, it can be disconcerting. You may have had no idea, given their frugal lifestyle, that they had so much money saved.
It’s normal to have a lot of emotions around it as you settle their estate and deal with all the tasks that entails. Many Americans these days are suffering “inheritor’s guilt” when they realize their loved ones could have spent their final years traveling the world or living out other dreams instead of having a simple life at home, watching their pennies until the very end. Many of these loved ones grew up in the Great Depression and never felt completely secure with any amount of money they had.
You don’t need to have inherited millions to experience this guilt. A much smaller amount can be shocking and disconcerting. One strategic wealth coach describes stages of emotions around an unexpectedly large inheritance –- disbelief, anger, euphoria, guilt and paralysis and finally moving on, which means becoming “heir-worthy.”
What you can do to help overcome this guilt
If your loved one didn’t leave money in trusts for your children or non-profit organizations, you can take steps to use the money for things you know your loved one valued. You may be able to fund your children’s college educations with the inheritance or give donations in their name to groups you know they believed in. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy any of it. Maybe your loved one never made it to Ireland, Italy or Mexico to explore their roots, but you can do that. That’s just one example.
It’s best not to make any big decisions while you’re still grieving. At some point, particularly if you’ve inherited a very large sum, it’s a good idea to meet with a wealth advisor.
Another way you can protect your loved one’s legacy is to wisely administer their estate. Find out how you can minimize unnecessary fees and taxes so that they don’t eat into the assets they worked so hard to accumulate. Having experienced legal guidance can help.