Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just found out mom, who died in 2005, had insurance policy. $300k spilit between me & bro. What the hell do I do? I only have car payment, little savings. Taxes?

First, I'm sorry for your loss.

As far as the insurance settlement, my best advice is to start with a tax adviser, preferably a CPA. You'll need someone familiar with tax law to determine how much of your half of the insurance policy will actually come to you and how much will go to Uncle Sam,who gets his cut first. My guess is that if the money is to be split down the middle, $150k apiece, you're looking at 40 percent or better of that money going to the government in estate and or income taxes. (Of course I'm not a tax accountant so don't quote me on that).

After you've worked out the tax implications, you'll want to make sure you do some planning for what you'll do with that money. It's great that all you've got in debt is a car payment, so I'd start by paying that off. After that, beef up whatever savings you've got to the extent that you have at least six months worth of expenses in a liquid (cash) account.

With the rest, take a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction for a splurge, and put the rest toward some long-term investment (home downpayment, retirement, etc.).

Good luck.

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