6 of the Worst Assets to Inherit

Leaving these assets to loved ones may be more trouble than it’s worth. How to avoid adding to their grief after you're gone.

Photo of a paper will cut in half with some scissors resting on top of it.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The total value of an inheritance is not just a dollar figure; what’s actually in an estate can matter significantly. Trillions of dollars will transfer from one generation to the next in the decades ahead, but not everyone will see their inheritance as a help; for some, it may actually be a headache.

The fact is, some assets are better than others to leave behind. Others can cause arguments between family members, or may have hidden costs. Sometimes, let’s face it, your kids just don’t want your stuff.

You can prevent issues from happening though with thoughtful estate planning. “A lot of people leave estate planning to the last minute, or they don’t get to it,” says Neil V. Carbone, trusts and estates partner at Farrell Fritz in New York. “For family harmony and efficiency, start your planning early with an attorney or other estate plan expert. They can get to know your assets and, in doing so, identify what might be an issue.”

Carbone finds that children and other young family members are more likely to respect a parent’s wishes if they hear them in person, even if it’s something they don’t like, versus finding out from a document when they’re also grieving. A professional can also help you start adjust your assets to those that are more effective to leave.

“In my experience, the best asset to leave behind: cash,” says Michael Romero, vice president and relationship manager at Argent Financial Group, a full-service wealth and trust management firm. He says brokerage accounts are good too because they’re so easy to value and divide. Everything else gets a little more complicated.

Here are six of the worst assets to inherit and what you can do to help manage them before you are gone. Read on for advice on what to do if you inherit something you don't want and how to make sure your estate doesn't add to your heirs' grief.

Senior Retirement Editor, Kiplinger.com

Elaine Silvestrini has had an extensive career as a newspaper and online journalist, primarily covering legal issues at the Tampa Tribune and the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey. In more recent years, she's written for several marketing, legal and financial websites, including Annuity.org and LegalExaminer.com, and the newsletters Auto Insurance Report and Property Insurance Report.