When a loved one dies there is much to do and more to think about. Even as you are grieving and coming to terms with your loss, you need to be thinking long term about important decisions that need to be made regarding inheritance and property. Though your loved one has passed, their wealth and property remains to be dealt with and it is up to you and your family to make decisions about what to do.
In this difficult time, you will need some advice for how best to proceed. Take your time getting to grips with it all and do ask the advice of your family lawyer if you are at all unsure about what to do next. As your emotions will take some settling down after the shock, it is important that you don’t allow yourself to make any rash decisions.
There is plenty of time.
When to Sell
Selling the property of a deceased relative can be really difficult. For one thing, you will be so used to the house with them in it that now it feels eerie just to be there. For another, it can feel a bit odd to be redecorating to create a more neutral interior, knowing that someone else will live here soon.
However, selling a property is usually the best thing to do after your loved one has passed. This is because property is often left between siblings who will sell it and then split the money. This is good because unless you plan to use the property as an investment (read below for more), the house will only be wasted and the money you will receive from the sale could easily be put to better use. If you need help to empty the house and to redecorate, make this small investment to help ease the transition.
If your loved one had a lot of possessions and you and other family members have already been through and taken what you would like to keep, it can be overwhelming to try and choose what to bin, what to sell and what to donate. A quicker method could be to hold an estate sale. This is where the estate is open for visitors who can purchase anything they like, usually at a good price. You can find estate sale companies in your local area who will be able to advise you on what to do next.
When to Keep
Choosing what to keep is always a tough decision. It comes down to a balance of what is sentimental in value, what is valuable as an investment and whether you have room to store everything you want. This job takes a while and will be emotionally draining but it is usually better to do fairly soon. A simple rule to follow is: if you are in doubt, keep it. You can always redecide later on, when you are ready to let go.
If you are a large family, it is best to go around your loved one’s house together and decide by mutual consent who gets what. If your loved one has left a will, go by the dictates of this first, and then work out the rest by yourselves. At times like this emotions run high and it can be difficult to reach an agreement. When you can feel that people are getting strained and disagreeing, suggest that you take a break and have a drink together to discuss matters more calmly.
When to Save
Saving is a really good idea for any monetary investment, even if you are only saving for now because you aren’t sure how to spend or invest. Putting the money into your savings account will keep it safe and should also provide you with a bit of financial stability while you deal with your grief and start to get back into life’s natural ebbs and flows.
Putting your money into a savings account isn’t the only way you can save money though and you should seriously consider paying off any debts you have or making over payments to your mortgage. In the long term, paying off debts is usually better for your finances than keeping the debts and building up a nest egg. This is because the interest you pay on debt usually outstrips the interest you earn on savings.
If you have inherited money to cover your debts, this is the first thing you should do. Then, you will see an immediate impact on your monthly outgoings and will be able to start saving from there. Paying off debts might not be the most exciting thing you can do with your inheritance but it is the most sensible long term decision you will ever make.
When to Invest
What to do with the house is probably going to be the biggest decision you have to make. Like most people, you could sell the property and put the money to better use but you could also use it as an investment and offer it our for rent. This will mean that as an asset you will keep the house, but you will also make a monthly income from it. This route isn’t for everyone and if you have siblings to share the house with, it might get complicated, but it is certainly worth your consideration.
If you have inherited money one of the best things you can do with it is make an investment. You might want to invest in property or if you are a bit more savvy you could investigate investing online, but whatever you choose, make sure that your inheritance works for you. Many families inherit wealth and them squander it without much thought, but if you are more sensible, you can eek it out and make it work for you so that you can enjoy it for much longer.
If you are unsure how best to invest your inheritance, you should speak to a financial advisor to find out what your options are. They will be able to notify you of any particularly good investment opportunities available to you and also explain the associated risks that come with any investment you plan to make.
However, investing to make a profit is not the only good investment. You could use your inheritance to start up the business you have always wanted or to invest in your education and progress your career. Either way, this is a good use of your windfall as it will improve your future prospects and prosperity, exactly as it should.
Investing in your future this way is a lovely gesture to make that your loved one would surely be proud of you for making. Take time to decide exactly what you want to invest in – whether you want to build a nest egg for retirement, go back to school or start up a business – and then go for it. This is your chance.
When to Spend
Sometimes, spending your inheritance rather than saving or investing can also be a good idea. This is usually the case if your inheritance isn’t life changing money but is a kind gesture that will still give you the opportunity to do something you have always dreamed of. On the flip side, if you have received a life changing inheritance, after you have paid off any debts and made a few investments, you are certainly allowed to enjoy the remaining money now.
However, rather than simply add this extra money into your bank account to be spent without any real thought, consider putting it into a fund for a very specific thing like a holiday or a car. It is easy to just whittle away at money without thinking about it but when you have inherited, you must understand that the money was passed to you for a reason. It is an opportunity you can’t miss.
If you have always dreamed of travelling, or a particular car or have always wanted to try a new hobby or even something bigger like add an extension to your house, this is the time to do it. For one thing, you will remember your loved one every time you enjoy what you bought, but it will also make a tangible impact on your life bringing you joy and new experiences.
Dealing with the death of a loved one is always difficult, but having an idea of what to do once you have inherited will take the pressure off you a little bit. There is no ‘right’ decision to make in this case. You just need to consider all your options and then try to make your decision slowly and carefully, involving your family and friends if you want to have some extra support.
You will know what is best for you and it won’t necessarily be just one of the options above. More likely, you will do a bit of saving, a bit of spending and a bit of investment. Some things you will keep, some things will be sold or given away. This is the nature of things.