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  • Writer's pictureLinda Varga

Receiving an Inheritance? Here Are Some Common Mistakes to Avoid, According to Experts

Receiving an Inheritance? Here Are Some Common Mistakes to Avoid, According to Experts

Receiving an inheritance can be a life-changing event, bringing both emotional and financial challenges. While an inheritance can provide financial security, it's essential to navigate this transition carefully. Financial experts emphasize the importance of making informed decisions to avoid common pitfalls that can diminish the value of your inheritance. Here, we outline some common mistakes to avoid when receiving an inheritance.

1. Spending Too Quickly

One of the most frequent mistakes is spending the inheritance impulsively. It's tempting to make large purchases or invest in high-risk ventures immediately, but this can lead to regret and financial instability. Experts recommend:

  • Pause and Plan: Take time to assess your financial situation and future goals before making any major financial decisions.

  • Seek Professional Advice: Consult with a financial advisor to create a plan that aligns with your long-term financial objectives.

2. Ignoring Tax Implications

Inheritances can come with tax obligations that, if overlooked, can lead to unexpected financial burdens. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may face estate taxes, inheritance taxes, or capital gains taxes. To avoid pitfalls:

  • Understand Tax Laws: Educate yourself on the tax implications specific to your inheritance and region.

  • Consult a Tax Professional: Work with a tax advisor to navigate complex tax rules and ensure compliance.

3. Failing to Pay Off Debt

While it's tempting to invest or spend the inheritance, prioritizing debt repayment can significantly improve your financial health. High-interest debt, such as credit card balances, can erode your financial stability over time. Experts suggest:

  • Prioritize High-Interest Debt: Use a portion of the inheritance to pay off high-interest debt first.

  • Balance Debt Repayment with Savings: Allocate funds wisely to balance debt repayment and building an emergency fund.

4. Neglecting to Invest Wisely

Failing to invest the inheritance can lead to missed opportunities for growth. Conversely, investing without proper knowledge can result in significant losses. To avoid these mistakes:

  • Diversify Investments: Spread your investments across different asset classes to mitigate risk.

  • Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about investment options and strategies.

  • Consult an Investment Advisor: Seek professional guidance to develop a diversified investment portfolio that matches your risk tolerance and goals.

5. Overlooking Long-Term Financial Planning

An inheritance provides an opportunity to secure your financial future, but only if you plan effectively. Neglecting long-term financial planning can lead to squandered resources. Experts recommend:

  • Set Financial Goals: Establish clear short-term and long-term financial goals.

  • Create a Comprehensive Plan: Develop a financial plan that includes budgeting, saving, investing, and retirement planning.

6. Not Updating Estate Plans

Receiving an inheritance might necessitate updates to your own estate plans. Failing to do so can lead to complications for your heirs. To avoid this mistake:

  • Review and Update Documents: Ensure that your will, trusts, and beneficiary designations reflect your current wishes and circumstances.

  • Seek Legal Advice: Work with an estate planning attorney to ensure your documents are legally sound and up to date.

7. Forgetting About Charitable Contributions

While it’s crucial to secure your financial future, considering charitable contributions can be a meaningful way to honor the legacy of the person from whom you inherited. Experts suggest:

  • Research Charities: Identify reputable charities that align with your values and the values of the deceased.

  • Consult a Financial Advisor: Explore tax-efficient ways to donate, such as setting up a charitable trust or making direct contributions.


Receiving an inheritance is a significant financial event that requires careful consideration and planning. By avoiding common mistakes such as spending too quickly, ignoring tax implications, neglecting debt repayment, failing to invest wisely, overlooking long-term financial planning, not updating estate plans, and forgetting about charitable contributions, you can make the most of your inheritance. Consulting with financial, tax, and legal professionals can provide invaluable guidance and help you navigate this transition smoothly, ensuring that your inheritance contributes positively to your financial well-being and legacy.



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