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5 Ways To Keep A Windfall From Ruining You

What to do when you receive a financial blessing – and what not to do.


COSTA MESA, Calif. – A recent study from the Federal Reserve stated that over nine million homes in the United States reported receiving inheritance of $100,000 or more. Other data also suggests that baby boomers will receive more than $8 trillion in inheritance here across the next couple of decades. Tax specialist, Tom Bass, EA, gives some insight.

Sometimes such “blessings” end up as curses to those who aren’t prepared. Consider former baseball star Lenny Dykstra, who recently filed for bankruptcy in 2009 after once having a net worth estimated at $58 million. And, of course, the stories of lottery winners have become so pervasive that Hollywood has even begun using the storyline as regular plot device on TV,” Bass said.

Local tax preparer, Rhonda Johnson, offers a few quick essentials to consider, should you find yourself the recipient of a small fortune:

  1. Move slowly at first. Most of the bad decisions made with sudden wealth happen in the first couple months. So lock it up in a low-yield savings account for three months; use that time productively.
  2. Circle back to your life goals, and evaluate how the money will help you achieve them. You’ve suddenly been given some cushion, but that doesn’t mean your life has to radically change. It might get easier … but leaving behind the goals you created before could make it harder.
  3.  Find a disinterested advisor to be a buffer. It’s often best to work with someone who already has experienced handling the finances for people of means. That way they, too, won’t get caught up in the emotion of it. Let them be your “go to” gatekeeper.
  4. Immediately, give a portion of it away. There’s something special which happens inside your mind when you give away your money: it loses its grip on you, ever so slowly. What can happen is that you aren’t as affected in your character by the sudden influx of funds.
  5. And, of course, assess your tax strategy. Coming from me, this should be a no-brainer, but every gift has a variety of ways by which it can affect your taxes, and many of the moves which a good tax professional can help you make can protect you greatly.

Tom Bass, EA & Rhonda Johnson together run Accountable Solutions, providing tax services to individuals and families as well as small businesses. Give them a call 866.282.3127, email or visit their website


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