“If you spend that amount of money from the inheritance you just received,” I told a client a few years ago, “it’s going to vanish over time.” Guess what? It did. This client spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and had nothing to show for it, other than feelings of regret. Even if you’re lucky enough to receive a significant sum of money, if you spend it rashly, you’ll run out of money. But, if you invest (even a small sum) wisely, it could significantly improve your financial security.  

When I help people open American brokerage and retirement accounts from my office in Jerusalem, I see many different personalities. Some folks worry about the money, some celebrate it, and others just are confused. A critical part of my job is helping clients understand their financial choices so that they don’t regret decisions later. Here’s what I suggest: 

Look at the bigger picture

Getting an inheritance is not only about receiving a cash infusion. It’s also about fitting that money into your overall financial plan. Depending on how the inheritance was received (an IRA, stocks, mutual funds, cash, etc.) can affect your options.

Don’t be rash

When getting an inheritance, some people can’t wait to get the money and they may spend the money even before it’s in their hands. This is one of the worst mistakes you can make when you get an inheritance. Claiming an inheritance may entail a lengthy legal process.

Get professional advice

If you recently received an inheritance or you know you are in line for one, consult with a financial professional to help you get the most out of your new wealth. Withdrawing funds or not properly titling accounts can incur penalties and taxes if not done properly. For more resources on what you should do when you receive an inheritance read: Profile-Financial.com/inheritance 

Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, is the Director of Profile Investment Service, Ltd., which specializes in helping people who live in Israel with their US dollar assets and American investment and retirement accounts. He helps olim meet their financial goals through asset allocation, financial planning, and using money managers.

Published April 30, 2018. Updated July 2020

Read more articles