There’s a tendency to think about inheritances like lotteries — you’re lightning-in-a-bottle lucky if you get one. That really isn’t true, though.

Sure, multi-million-dollar estates don’t drop into unsuspecting relatives’ laps every day. But more modest estates can still represent a real gain for beneficiaries and their families, and those kinds of inheritances are bequeathed every single day.

Indeed, about 44% of American families can expect to inherit either an asset or a sum of money (or some combination thereof).

Have you ever wondered how people spend the money they inherit? Not wisely, it turns out.Inheritance money

An Ohio State University study found that most Americans either don’t know how to handle an inheritance or simply can’t resist the urge to blow it on a splurge.

Their findings include these startling statistics:

• More than 50% of American beneficiaries spend more than 50% of their inheritance money.

• 30% of American beneficiaries spend or otherwise lose 100% of their inheritance. Some even manage to go into deeper debt than they might have had they never inherited anything.

• The mean inheritance among those studied was $11,340. “Not exactly a king’s ransom,” the report notes, but that’s still no small chunk of change.

If you’re the one doing the bequeathing, those numbers might trouble you. After all, what’s the use in leaving your hard-earned money to your loved ones if they’re likely to squander it?

The best defenses against wasted inheritances are good communication and strategic estate planning. It’s important to leave your money with the right expectations in place — and to leave it to the right people, under the right conditions.

As experienced Canton estate planning lawyers, we can help you create an estate plan that protects your family’s inheritance against frivolous spending or careless decisions. Get in touch with our office to learn more about how we can help.

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