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attorney Todd M. Villarrubia

Todd Villarrubia

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What’s the Best Way to Manage an Inheritance?

Posted On: January 17, 2024

By: Todd Villarrubia

Todd M. Villarrubia, an authority in wealth planning and preservation, brings over 30 years of in-depth, experience to the complex challenges of safeguarding familial and individual wealth. Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, his expertise is not only recognized in the local community but also reverberates within the legal industry.
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Before you start spending your windfall, take some time to figure out your taxes, how you might invest and what your long-term plan looks like.

Inheriting wealth comes with its own set of challenges and emotions, whether it’s a modest amount or a significant amount. A recent article from Kiplinger, “Three Essential Strategies for Managing Your Inheritance,” explains three key considerations to help manage an inheritance responsibly.

Understanding tax implications. Taxes take a bite out of inherited wealth and require the help of an experienced estate planning attorney to guide you through the maze of taxes. The type of assets inherited, and the laws of your state will affect tax liabilities. For the most part, life insurance proceeds are tax-free. However, inherited retirement accounts, including traditional IRAs or 401(k)s, are not.

When the asset inherited is real property, there may be a benefit from a step-up in basis, which can minimize capital gains taxes if the decision is made to sell the property.

Federal estate tax exemptions are still extremely high. However, there may be state estate taxes or inheritance taxes to consider.

Confusion about taxes often occurs because the rules differ for diverse asset types. Inherited IRAs, for instance, may be taxed heavily if the withdrawals are not appropriately managed. Understanding the rules makes all the difference.

Investing? Act wisely. Sudden wealth often causes people to act irresponsibly. It’s tempting to take a risk with investments. However, wealth can evaporate very quickly if not managed with care and prudence. Before making any big financial decisions, evaluate your overall financial picture. Wealth may be best used to pay off debt, invest and save for the future.

If you don’t have an emergency fund, this is the time to establish one, enhance retirement savings and rid yourself of any debt. You’ll want to chart a course to balance growth with wealth preservation.

Make a long-term plan for the future. A large inheritance can substantially impact your life goals and retirement plans. It’s an excellent opportunity to reassess your finances and consider making adjustments. Is early retirement your goal? Are there charitable causes you’d like to support? If you have or plan to have children, could your inheritance be used for their college education?

An inheritance is also a time to ensure that your estate plan is in place. This includes trusts, wills and health care directives to manage and protect your wealth. An inheritance of any size requires estate planning to protect yourself and your family.

Estate planning goes beyond having a will. It’s about ensuring assets are distributed according to your wishes. Trusts are excellent tools for managing wealth and allow for control over how assets are used by future generations, in addition to providing tax benefits and creditor protection.

If you’re navigating an inheritance, take time to plan before you act. You’ll want to make wise choices to honor the legacy behind the inheritance while creating your own legacy.

Reference: Kiplinger (Dec. 8, 2023) “Three Essential Strategies for Managing Your Inheritance”

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