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In Hindsight – wise money lessons I wish I could tell my younger self

Navigating Inheritance – beyond the money

with Gabriella


Details


Kim Potgieter

Kim Potgieter

April 22, 2024
Money is such an emotional topic, no matter how you look at it. When your financial status suddenly changes, for better or worse, it can be an extremely challenging transition period to navigate – not only from a financial perspective but also emotionally.

Gabriella inherited a substantial sum from her husband. They shared a beautiful and deep connection, and his death turned her entire world upside down. As a young widow, apart from navigating the overwhelming loss of her life partner, the sudden windfall left her feeling guilty, overwhelmed, and daunted by the responsibility of these funds.

How does one honour a legacy with grace and wisdom? How do you navigate this profound life transition that suddenly feels strange, unfamiliar and filled with new challenges?

Introducing Gabriella

The past few years have been profoundly challenging for Gabriella as she stood by her husband throughout his illness, caring for him and accompanying him to all his doctor’s visits. After her husband’s passing, Gabriella found herself not just mourning her life partner but also struggling with the inheritance that came with its own set of emotional weights: guilt, anxiety and fear. Apart from the guilt and feeling undeserving of the money, Gabriella felt fearful of managing it properly, worried about making poor financial decisions and dealing with the tax associated with the investment.

Inheriting from someone you’ve loved deeply has a profound emotional impact.

While Gabriella’s experiences are uniquely challenging, they resonate deeply with others navigating similar transitions. It’s not uncommon for people in these situations to struggle with feelings of isolation, disconnection, and anxiety about financial decisions.

Gabriella’s journey through a devastating transition

Question
What have been your biggest challenges with the inheritance?

Answer
The hardest part was trusting myself. I was daunted by the thought of managing the money and setting realistic expectations about my capabilities. Initially, I blamed the inheritance as the source of my stress and worry, but it was really a catalyst for uncovering deeper emotions like grief, fear and anger. Life and financial planning have helped me see that my stress was less about money and more about underlying emotions that I hadn’t addressed.

Question
Have you experienced guilt, pressure, isolation, or an identity crisis since receiving the inheritance? How have you coped with these feelings?

Answer
The responsibility felt overwhelming – I felt guilty stressing about wealth when others struggle – and guilt over the freedom it gives me to pursue my dreams due to such a devastating event.

People don’t regularly talk about money, and I felt isolated, afraid to seek help for fear of being judged incompetent or unworthy. As a young widow, I felt alone and unequipped with the life skills to tackle this responsibility on my own.

Reflecting on these emotions, I realised they were self-imposed and untrue – they were stories I created based on my own insecurities. The reality is that my husband trusted and believed in me to manage this transition, be the guardian of the inheritance, and, most importantly, live a fulfilling life. This realisation inspired me to honour his belief in me and embrace the gift he has given me.

Question
How will you honour that legacy that your late husband left behind?

Answer
I’ve learned that honouring his legacy is also about honouring mine. His wish was to be a part of my growth and happiness for the rest of our lives, and through this inheritance, he supports me in living my legacy now, not waiting until after I’m gone.

Question
A significant life-changing event often demands we pause, reflect, and start a new chapter. How will you navigate your life from now on? What will you do differently?

Answer
I will continue to pause, breathe, and check in with myself. I will remind myself to separate perceptions from reality, to be authentic, and to live life meaningfully and purposefully.

Question
What prompted you to reach out to a financial planner? Has it been helpful?

Answer
I knew that I needed help working on my complicated relationship with the inherited money and recalibrating and planning for a new chapter with a new identity. I cannot imagine navigating this process without the team at Chartered, from estate settlement to taxes, life and financial planning. I learned how to move forward without feeling overwhelmed. Chartered provided a sense of security, allowing me to take a breath, sit with uncertainty, and confidently explore my new identity. It’s reassuring to know that ‘it’s going to be ok, we’ve got this.’

Question
What new money habits are you embracing?

Answer
I’ve learned that it’s ok to ask for help, trust myself, and let go of the need to control everything. I am starting to understand that money should support and enhance my life, and it’s not something I need to hoard, feel guilty about, or be afraid of. My new money habits are to:

  • Remind myself that money is my friend – not a foe.
  • Take control of my money – this means checking in on it, not obsessing or ignoring it.
  • Staying thoughtful (sometimes conservative) but not hoarding it or limiting myself.
  • Check in with the ‘stories’ I am creating around money and assessing whether they’re true.
  • Learn more each day about how I can grow and support money while it grows and supports me.

Question
Do you have advice for others who may be going through significant transitions?

Answer
Pause. Breathe. Ask for help. Allow yourself to experience all the emotions – the grief, the fear, the pain… allow it to come and allow it to go. And the most important piece of advice – stay open.

Question
Do you have any advice for others regarding a sudden windfall?

Answer
Find specialist support that you trust. You don’t have to know it all, and you don’t have to do it all alone. My financial planners aren’t just that; they are my life advisors, sounding board, support system and team.

Always remember, when it comes to your money and your life, be inspired, be brave, and be on purpose.

Kim

Click here to read Kim’s advice to Gabriella
Click here to read the Midlife Money Reflection – Financially Unprepared – the unintended burden of inheritance

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