Smart Ways to Handle an Inheritance

Here's how to handle an inheritance like a pro. A bequest could change your life, but don’t quit your day job.

A ripped piece of paper with the word "inheritance" rests on top of a few $100 bills.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’ve all heard stories about individuals who passed away quietly after a life of frugality, leaving a fortune to their unsuspecting heirs or, occasionally, a beloved pet.

The reality is a lot less riveting. According to the Washington Post, the average American has inherited only about $58,000 as of 2022, taking into account that most of us won't receive any form of inheritance. The Federal Reserve also reports that from 1989 to 2007, on average, only 21%  of American households at a given point in time received a wealth transfer.

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.

With contributions from