I observed to a friend that this year, I have seen more money change hands via inheritance than I ever have before in my career. 

Navigating the death of a loved one – whether it be a parent, a spouse, a cousin, a friend – can be tricky.  Not only does money change hands; so too does property, from houses and cars to beloved family heirlooms.  Roles and responsibilities shift, causing expectations and relationships to change.   Sometimes the changes are anticipated and planned, and sometimes they are not.  There seems to be a lot going on all at once. 

This is an opportunity for us to delve into both the personal and the technical sides of money, and shape how our lives look going forward.

I’ve written on part of the technical side, including the rules for inherited IRA’s, here:
Inherited IRAs… the Rules Keep A-Changin’!

Today, I’m going to focus on some of the more personal questions that should be considered to help make sense of an inheritance, no matter where it may come from.  Reflecting on these important questions before diving in can help you ride the wave of transition as gracefully as possible and get back on stable ground.

  1. What needs to be protected?
    • What do you hold so dear that maintaining it becomes a top priority?  Perhaps there is a special tradition you want to keep doing, to help remember and honor your loved one.  Perhaps there is a physical object you’d like to keep, such as an heirloom or a piece of property.  Realizing what is sacred to you will help you in making financial decisions going forward.  After all, it is often the personal side that drives the actions we take on the technical side.
  2. What needs to be let go of?
    • Letting go is never easy, but it may be required after a major life change.  This question helps you to identify any aspects of the old way of doing things that no longer fit into the new situation you are moving into.  I can recall this from personal experience.  When my grandmother was getting older and losing her eyesight, her daughters became worried about her making the Thanksgiving feast.  Together they realized that the old tradition of “grandma makes the meal” had to go, for everyone’s safety, as well as for practical reasons.  It wasn’t easy prying the spatula out of her hands, but in the end, it helped everyone to adapt and enjoy the special day.
  3. What needs to be celebrated or created?
    • This open-ended question gives you permission to shift into future thinking, exploring hopes and dreams.  In the case of my grandmother and Thanksgiving, after she passed away, we were all a bit lost as to what to do.  But this allowed us to have an open conversation about what we each loved about the Thanksgiving tradition, and then to create something new with the parts that we loved.  What would you like the next stage of life to look like?  You may not know right now, and that’s OK.  What you can know is that things will slowly change, and you have the power to make that change move in the direction you want it to.

We help clients who receive an inheritance think about these important questions and navigate the possibilities.  It is a great honor and a great joy to do so.   

Please email me if I can help you or a loved one in this transition.

By pacing yourself, slowing down, and discovering your own personal answers during times of transition, you can move from chaos and darkness to possibility and light.

All the best,