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When Loved Ones Leave Money: Managing the Emotional Toll of Unexpected Wealth

Life throws curveballs, and sometimes, those unforeseen surprises arrive packaged in the form of an inheritance. While receiving money or assets from a loved one can be a blessing, it’s often accompanied by a whirlwind of emotions. Grief, guilt, joy, and confusion can all swirl together, leaving you feeling a bit lost in the financial and emotional aftermath.

Money and loss are rarely comfortable topics. We don’t learn how to navigate these situations in school, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. It’s important to know you’re not alone in this emotional rollercoaster, and there are ways to navigate the terrain with grace and understanding.

Facing Your Feelings

First and foremost, acknowledge that your emotional response is valid. It’s perfectly normal to feel a mix of relief, sadness, frustration, and even anger. Losing a loved one is a deeply personal experience, and it’s okay to grieve your loss while also processing the unexpected financial change.

Don’t try to numb your emotions or force yourself to feel a certain way. Give yourself time and space to process the emotions as they arise. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, clergy, or therapist about what you’re going through. Sharing your feelings can be incredibly cathartic and help you gain perspective.

Inheritance Etiquette: Navigating Family Dynamics

Etiquette may not come to mind when it comes to receiving an inheritance. However, just like any other event that occurs in our lives, there are generally accepted rules that should apply. 

Peggy Post, director of The Emily Post Institute and granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post, wrote regarding inheritances, “The underpinnings of etiquette are respect, consideration, and honesty and those benchmarks all apply.” She went on to say that a big problem when inheriting money is that families often forget to communicate with each other.

Receiving an inheritance can sometimes lead to strained relationships within families. It’s important to remember that everyone processes grief differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to feel.

If you find yourself in a situation where family members disagree about the inheritance, take a step back and try to communicate openly and honestly. Consider a family meeting to discuss plans. Be respectful and listen to everyone’s concerns. Try to find common ground. Remember, communication is key to maintaining healthy family relationships.

Managing an Inheritance

Going on a spending spree after receiving an inheritance may be tempting, but resist the urge to react impulsively. Take time to breathe, get your bearings, and determine what’s best for you.

Think about your current situation. What are your financial goals? Do you have any debt? An emergency fund? Knowing where you stand now will help you make informed decisions about your inheritance.

One of the first things you should consider is tackling debt. If you have high-interest credit card debt or other loans, paying them off with your inheritance can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Another smart move is to build up your emergency fund. Aim for at least six months of living expenses just in case something unexpected happens. A well-funded emergency fund will give you peace of mind and help you avoid dipping into your inheritance for future emergencies.

You also want to enjoy your inheritance. It’s perfectly okay to treat yourself to something special but try not to go overboard. Your loved one probably intended to set you up for the future, not just a temporary splurge.

Think about investing the rest of your inheritance. There are many different options available. Consider seeking professional financial advice from a trusted financial advisor to help plan and protect your newly acquired assets. A financial advisor can help you understand your options and create a plan that aligns with your financial goals and long-term needs.

Remember, an inheritance is a gift. It’s a chance to improve your life and secure your future, but it also comes with responsibility. Don’t feel pressured to make any significant decisions immediately. Take your time, weigh your options carefully, and make choices that will benefit you and your future. It’s essential to strike a balance between enjoying the benefits of the inheritance and making wise choices.

Finding Meaning

While money can’t replace a loved one, it can be a powerful tool for creating a positive impact in your life and the lives of others. Consider using your inheritance to:

  • Fulfill a lifelong dream. Whether traveling the world, pursuing your education, starting a business, or taking a leap of faith in your career, your inheritance can be the catalyst to making your dreams a reality.
  • Support a cause you care about. Giving back can be a powerful way to channel emotions into positive change. Donate to a charity or organization that resonates with you and honors the legacy of your loved one. This allows you to contribute to something meaningful and create a lasting impact on the world. 
  • Invest in the future of your family. You might want to use your inheritance to help your children with their education, provide financial security for future generations, or create a legacy that reflects your family’s values.

Finding meaning in your inheritance can help you feel connected to the memory of your loved one and create a sense of purpose. It’s a way of honoring their legacy and ensuring their gift continues to bring joy and fulfillment into the world.

Manage Your Inheritance with Legacy Planning

Receiving an inheritance can bring a whirlwind of emotions and logistical questions; however, it is also a chance to step into a brighter financial future. Navigating this new landscape alone can feel overwhelming. 

At Legacy Planning, we understand the emotional and financial complexities of receiving an inheritance. Our team of compassionate advisors can partner with you to explore the best financial options so you can feel confident about your decisions. To see if we can help you work through the financial intricacies of an inheritance, click here to schedule a conversation today.

As you walk this journey, remember to celebrate the legacy of your loved one, hold on to those special memories, and let this inheritance be a spark for your own growth and make a positive mark in the world.

Content in this material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.


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