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Ask Dave

An Overwhelming Inheritance

Gwen's father passed away 18 months ago. The business he built was sold, and she and her siblings will each get a check for $43.2 million. She has no idea what to do with this money and is scared.

QUESTION: Gwen in Toledo is calling because her father passed away 18 months ago. The business he built was sold, and she, her sister, and her brother will each get a check for $43.2 million. She has no idea what to do with this money and is scared. Dave gives Gwen his best tips and advises her to watch out for relatives coming out of the woodwork.

ANSWER: It’s wise to be afraid, because you don’t want to mess this up. We’re going to go slow. You don’t put money in things you don’t understand, which refers to number one. We’re going to go slow until we understand things. You need to let other people know that you’re not going to be giving any money or loaning any money for quite some time until you can get your arms wrapped around this emotionally. The answer is no. Relatives come out of the woodwork.

You’re not donating it to charity today. Even the amount you donate to charity you’ve got to be very wise about. You could destroy a charity by giving them too much in some cases, believe it or not. You can afford to be very generous, but now you have the responsibility to even be wise with your generosity.

You’re going to go slow. You’re not going to put the money in things, including charities, that you don’t understand. You stiff-arm relatives and charities for now because you’re going to go slow and you’re going to understand. By and large, we’re going to have a rule that we don’t loan or give to relatives. You can tell them your financial adviser told you that because I just did. Blame it on me.

You’ve got to form a board of advisers. This is not a board that tells you what to do. This is a board of teachers. You need a CPA, an insurance agent, an investment person, an estate planning attorney, a tax attorney, and maybe a real estate agent. Be willing to pay them reasonably. What you are looking for—and this is very important as you interview them to put them on your board of advisers—is the heart of a teacher, not the heart of arrogance. If one of these attorneys drops their glasses down on the end of their nose and starts talking down to you, fire their butt. They’re hired help. They work for you. Some of them get confused about that. They are there to teach you. That’s all. They’re not there to sell you, and they’re not there to take over. If they attempt to do the takeover or the sell, fire their butt instantly, because you can’t fix this.

You’ve got to get a stack of books, and you’ve got to start reading about money. Get The Millionaire Next Door by Tom Stanley, Stanley’s second book called The Millionaire Mind, and Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and start learning about money. But go slow. You’re not looking for a perfect thing. It’s okay if you don’t make great returns on investments and do some big hairy deal. It’s okay if the money is boring. It’s okay if people call you unsophisticated. That's all okay. If you want an investment person who has the heart of a teacher, you can go to and click on ELP for investing. They can help you park the money in something they don’t make a commission on temporarily while you get some of your ducks in a row and start to learn.

Go slow, kiddo. Teach your kids so this doesn’t happen to them.