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SudoNim's avatar

How do I emotionally deal with a large inheritance?

Asked by SudoNim (16points) November 9th, 2010

First of all, to explain the name and so y’all can mentally place me: I’m a 5K flutherer, been around for a bit over a year. Hi, friends!

So here’s the story: I got home today to find a large check from my grandmother’s estate sitting on my counter. She died a year ago. This was utterly unexpected – a bolt from the blue. I texted my SO, called the estate manager to double-check that it was real, and then cried for half an hour. This is more money than I expected to have all at once for several more years – I’m in my mid-twenties and still in grad school. This is the first time I have inherited anything. I didn’t think that she had put me in her will. Is that even what this means? I feel so…guilty and confused and sad, and I don’t even know that those are the right words to describe what I’m feeling right now. At the very least, I am suddenly super stressed.

Is this normal? It seems like I should be feeling something along the lines of happy, right? Can any of you with experience in this area tell me about what you felt like when this happened to you?

And, is it a bad idea to put this question out here, privacy-wise? I’m sure I could ask Augustlan to take it down if you guys think this is stupid.

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16 Answers

janbb's avatar

One: no, it’s not a bad idea to put it out here, especially under a pseudonym.

Two, any big surprise or major change is going to be stressful, even if it’s positive. I’m sure it will take some time to process and decide on what you want to do with the money. You might just want to put it somewhere very safe for a time while you assimilate the feelings associated with the inheritance. You don’t need to make major changes in your lifestyle if you don’t want to. You might just decide to use it as a nest egg for the future. The point I’m trying to make is give yourself time and space to feel your feelings. But please don’t feel guilty; she obviously loved you and wanted you to have the money.

marinelife's avatar

To move forward from your initial feelings, think about the fact that your grandmother loved you very much and remembered you in her will.

Just sit with that for a little while. Try to remember happy times with her that you had.

As for what to do with the money, you don’t have to think about that right away. You can stash the money in an interest-bearing account or in CDs with differing maturity dates.

Then spend lots of time thinking through your plans. Perhaps a down payment on a house or going back to school or just a trip and set the rest aside.

You don’t have to decide anything now. Wait until you are not overwhelmed by the whole idea.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Stash the money in a CD(or several) or money market account for at least 6 months before you do anything.

At that point you may want to contact some financial advisors for advice on what to do with it.
Don’t talk to just one, shop around for the advisor that works best for you.

Plan on having your financial aid cut. It may not happen, but if you are prepared, it won’t shock you if it does.

YARNLADY's avatar

Any time you are faced with an unexpected windfall of money put it into a savings account until you have time to deal with your feelings about it. In the meantime, consult a professional for financial counseling and if necessary, a personal counsel as well.

CMaz's avatar

Send it my way if it will make you feel better.

Going to grad school? You will do just fine. ;-)

deni's avatar

if she didnt want you to have this she wouldn’t have put you in her will and you wouldn’t have gotten it. be thankful, and ENJOY it. honestly….why worry about something that should only help you.

gailcalled's avatar

When you have caught your breath, consider “the philosophy of inherited wealth.” If you are lucky enough to inherit, use the income, let the principal grow and pass that on to other family members when you croak, which I hope is not for a long time.

TexasDude's avatar

Take care of the money, invest it wisely, and don’t feel guilty or anything like that. That’s probably what your grandmother had in mind for you anyway. There is a reason she left it to you. Accept it, and be at peace. Your stress will fade eventually.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’m not surprised at your reaction, especially if you were at all close to your grandmother.

When both of my parents died within six months of each other and the estate was settled soon afterward (they had been liquidating assets already by selling both of their homes and moving into a rental) I got a check in the mail that was expected… and I had a similar reaction. It was like, “this is really it; they’re both gone and this is all that’s left of them ‘in the world’.” It was a bittersweet day, for sure.

You have my condolences.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Share the love pal… Help a hooker out!

mrrich724's avatar

I received more money than most freshmen in college have in their banks when my mom died.

My mother was my best friend, and sometimes (even to this day) the only person I felt like I could count on unconditionally, and who loved me unconditionally.

When she died, I couldn’t give two shits about the money, but that didn’t change the fact that it was still there and available. At the end of the day, you got it because she wanted you to have it. Don’t feel guilty. (At least, I didn’t feel guilty at all, my mind was focused more on my loss than worrying about feeling guilty about money she wanted me to have)
Just because you received the money doesn’t mean you would have chosen that money over grandma.

Don’t do anything now, but hold off on doing something with the money until a little time has passed and you can clear your head. If it were me in your position, I’d probably have alot of debt from grad school. If the money were a few grand (5k – 20k) I’d probably spend it as I finished school for daily expenses. If it were more, I’d apply it to the debt grad school has most likely incurred.

The psych I had said this to me during one conversation about my mother,“Would you rather have had her, and experienced this death, or would you rather have never had her at all.” Basically, there is no way you could have avoided one day going through this loss. So don’t let it affect you more than it has to.

Sorry for your loss.

josie's avatar

Your grandmother wanted you to have it, since she could not use it. That was nice of her.
Why feel guilty? You did nothing wrong, or she would probably have given it to somebody else.
If you squander the money, knowing that grandma would disapprove, then I suppose you can feel guilty.

anartist's avatar

You may feel you didn’t “earn” it or deserve it, but nobody “earn’s a grandmother’s love. She just loves you. Don’t feel guilty that she loved you.
And for all you know, she may have given matching gifts to all her grandchildren.

Just think of her when you spend it, and spend it wisely.
This may be a great aid to you, because young people paying for graduate school often have mountains of debt to work off before they stabilize. Now you have a cushion.

iamthemob's avatar

I’ll tell you one thing that I’m pretty sure your grandmother would not want you to do with the money – feel guilty, sad or confused about it. She gave it to you because she wanted to make your life better, not worse.

As others have suggested, the best way to do that is to make it last as long as possible. Put it to work for you so it’s around when you want to pass something along to your grandkids. ;-)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Count your blessings – it’s okay to feel ambivalent, though.

CaptainHarley's avatar

A huge stroke of luck can be as stressful as a tremendously bad stroke of luck, surprisingly.

As to the money, I strongly, STRONGLY recommend you buy gold and sock it away somewhere safe. I cannot overemphasize this.

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