“Contrary to popular belief, the estate attorney handling the estate represents only his or her client, who is the executor of that estate….” Therefore, he or she is under no obligation to provide advice to any of the heirs as to their legal rights, Inheritance Funding points out.

Ideally, before your benefactor passed away, he or she passed on wisdom about money management to you as a younger family member. But what if, for whatever reason, that didn’t happen? What do you do now?

Susan Johnston Taylor, writing in U.S. News & World Report, lists five inheritance mistakes for heirs to avoid:

  • Spending money carelessly
  • Letting jealousy drive a rift in family relationships
  • Not getting expert advice from a qualified accountant and attorney
  • Losing other income sources (by being disqualified from government benefits)
  • Giving all the money to others

“If you get an inheritance and spend it right, it can definitely change your life and retirement for the better,” says Texas financial advisor Janet Briaud in Forbes. “The first thing to do if you get an inheritance is to step back and look at how it affects your personal balance sheet,” she adds.
Jean Setzfand, director of financial security for AARP suggests that, if you’re having or going to have a hard time making your income in retirement match your basic recurring expenses, you should consider using a portion of the inheritance to buy an immediate fixed annuity that pays you a set amount for life.

It’s fine to do what you think your folks would have wanted – as long as that’s what you want, too, and as long as it makes economic sense, observes Myra Salzer in “Living Richly”. At Geyer & Associates, we agree. And, while in many situations we are helping facilitate settlement and distribution of assets to heirs from an estate for which we helped plan, we’re also called upon by heirs who do not know where to begin. Our goals then become:

  • guiding those heirs through the process with sensitivity and empathy
  • helping heirs avoid those five inheritance mistakes!

– by Kimberly Lewis of  Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates