NEW YORK - What would you do if you suddenly got $100,000, no strings attached?
It's a hypothetical question for most of us. But for Peter Brooks, it was reality a few years ago.
After the untimely death of an old friend from pancreatic cancer, a lawyer called Brooks and told him there was a check waiting for $107,000, taxes paid.
With $30 trillion set to change hands from one generation to the next over the next 30 years, many others will find themselves in a similar position, according to Accenture.
While some may receive a few trinkets and others millions of dollars, the median inheritance will be between $50,000 and $100,000, according to a survey by Interest.com.
Handling new and unexpected wealth may sound wonderful, but can be a financial challenge. We asked financial experts to assess the decisions of three different beneficiaries:
For Brooks, a 55-year-old marketing consultant from the San Francisco area, the money significantly improved his quality of life.
At first, he deposited the check into a managed portfolio that his bank recommended. This was just before the market crash in 2008. Frustrated when the portfolio didn't budge, Brooks rolled the money into a certificate of deposit, which turned out to be fortuitous.
"When the market crashed, I thought, wow, I must have a guardian angel," he says.
Brooks decided that real estate was the biggest risk he could stomach, and he found an old Victorian house to buy for himself in nearby Vallejo for $97,000.
Indeed, buying a house is one of the most common financial moves people make with new money, according to Susan Bradley, a financial planner and founder of the Sudden Money Institute, based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, who specializes in helping people manage newfound wealth.
"If your inheritance increases your sense of home and safety, that's a really lovely thing to do with it," Bradley says.
Her caveat is that this works only if you're able to handle the upkeep on the house, which Brooks has been able to do just fine.