A Publication of WTVP

Planning now will help you avoid regrets later.

The odds are good that you will inherit money or assets in the coming years. And, if you’re like most people, you’ll save only half. The largest transfer of wealth in history is underway, with beneficiaries expected to receive $59 trillion over the next four decades, according to a Boston College study. But those heirs will lose, spend or donate half of their inheritances, if a 2012 study by Ohio University holds true.

People need to plan for inheriting wealth to avoid the pitfalls that result in so many heirs making emotional or ill-informed decisions they later regret. It’s never wise to make important financial decisions based on emotion, and inheritance often starts with grief—one of the most profound emotions we ever experience.

Particularly with the death of a parent, people can feel a whole range of emotions – guilt, overwhelming loss, anger, relief. It’s a very bad time to make decisions that can affect you and your family for the rest of your lives.

The average American inheritance is expected to be $177,000, according to HSBC Holdings, a banking company. In Canada, the average is just under $100,000. Whether or not that sounds like a lot of money to you, handled properly it can have a tremendous impact on your life. Here are three tips for planning for an inheritance:

Some adult children won’t initiate the conversation because they’re afraid of appearing greedy or eager for their parents to die. Sometimes, the parents want to discuss matters but their children aren’t comfortable addressing mom and dad’s mortality. Even spouses avoid talking about it. It’s the most easily avoidable mistake families make.

If loved ones express a desire to talk about “what you’ll get when I’m gone,” allow them to. It will give them peace of mind. If you want to initiate the conversation, look for opportunities, such as when a family you know or a family in the news is dealing with estate issues.

Receiving an inheritance can be a life-changing experience. It also represents your loved one’s financial legacy. Managing it well and preserving it is an important thing you can do in memory of that person you lost. iBi

Michael Abbott has two decades of experience assisting retirees with their 401(k)s and pension plans. He is co-founder of The Abbott Bennett Group, LLC, an independent financial services firm, where he serves as CFO. Christopher Bennett is a 16-year financial professional who has served as CEO of The Abbott Bennett Group, since 2003.