Special Report

13 Things to Do If You Suddenly Become Filthy Rich

It is important to decide whether you want to get all of your new money up front or if you want to create an annuity stream of payments. This generally applies to lotteries, where winners can decide whether they want a lump sum or to get annuity payments each month and spread out over 30 years. Making this decision also can apply to medical and legal judgments or other ways money comes to you rapidly. This is where a structured settlement or annuity comes into play. Before you choose which path you want, you better have had some serious input from your tax, legal and financial advisors.

10. Know Yourself and Your Limitations

With a team of professionals trying to keep your life set for the years or decades ahead, it is very important to be smart about your own limitations and skills. Again, becoming rich comes with responsibility. Making a smart investment or having a liquidity event at work does not always mean you are a master of money and finance. It is important to know how to protect yourself ahead of time if people come asking you for money, because chances are high someone you know will.

It is important to know if you are an impulse buyer rather than a shopper with discipline. Is the difference between a coach airplane ticket and first-class fare always worth it? Are you better off leasing or a buying a car, or renting a home versus buying? Does every new business idea you hear sound like the best investment in the world? These are all subjective things that people have to consider, and being unrealistic about your limitations will put your future at risk.

11. Being Careful About Friends, Family and Acquaintances

Remember how you were told to keep it a secret that you just became rich? Now you might have to remain protected from your friends and family, and old acquaintances may suddenly be calling you. Don’t feel like you have to set up the Bank of Family & Friends, and don’t feel like you need to go buy everything for everyone. It is important to protect your assets, which again goes back to your budgeting. If you didn’t get rich by your own efforts in business, chances are high that you should avoid becoming everyone’s business backer. If you knew nothing about venture capital and private equity last week, getting a big check today is not likely at all to change your knowledge any time soon. It is also important to know that how you give money to people may create tax events for them — or for you!

12. To Donate or Not to Donate

It usually takes money to be charitable. Churches, charities, foundations and other organizations all have one thing in common: they all require money from outsiders to survive. Before you go give vast sums of money away, you better get some advice from your tax and financial advisors. What if your gift is not handled properly, or what if the manner in which you give it creates a tax burden on you or the recipient? Not all “gifts” are free.

There is a movement that has picked up steam in recent years for the wealthy to donate all or most of their wealth. Just keep in mind that most of this giving will occur after these people die. Warren Buffett and other extremely wealthy individuals have done this, but they aren’t about to send themselves to the poor house. Also keep in mind that you or your loved ones may need to use money for an emergency in the years ahead. Imagine if you couldn’t help yourself or them because you gave it all away.

13. Remember That Decency and Laws Still Matter in the World

It probably feels awful to be preached to about laws, morals and decency. No one likes to be told that they have to be a good person, even though most of us know it and live it. You may have heard that laws don’t apply to the wealthy. That may have ended up being true in many instances, but losing your friends, having your family disgusted by you or having the law and police after you is not a good way to have things turn out. Money may help, but any romantic notions you have from the movies of being a social pariah or having the law after you is nothing more than fiction.

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