What is considered a large inheritance?

Understanding the Size: What is Considered a Large Inheritance?


When it comes to inheritances, determining what is considered large can be a subjective matter. The size of an inheritance can vary widely depending on various factors, such as income, education level, and race/ethnicity. However, in general, an inheritance of $100,000 or more is typically regarded as large.

Between 2016 and 2019, the average U.S. inheritance stood at $46,200, but there was a significant disparity between different income groups. For the top 1%, the average inheritance was a staggering $719,000, while for the bottom 50%, it was a modest $9,700. Families with a parent having a college degree typically received inheritances that were nearly $17,000 higher than families without a college-educated parent.

Factors that influence the size of an inheritance include income level, education level, and race/ethnicity. Higher-income households tend to receive larger inheritances, and families where at least one parent has a college degree usually leave more significant inheritances. Additionally, white families tend to have higher median inheritances compared to Black, Hispanic, and other families.

It’s important to remember that any inheritance, regardless of size, should be viewed as a blessing and managed thoughtfully. Planning for giving or receiving an inheritance requires careful consideration and may involve consulting with professionals such as estate planning attorneys or financial advisors.

Key Takeaways:

  • An inheritance of $100,000 or more is generally considered large.
  • The average U.S. inheritance between 2016 and 2019 was $46,200, with significant disparities between income groups.
  • Families with a parent with a college degree tend to receive higher inheritances.
  • Income level, education level, and race/ethnicity can influence the size of an inheritance.
  • Seeking professional advice for managing an inheritance is advisable.
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Factors That Influence Inheritance Size

Understanding the Size: What is Considered a Large Inheritance? Bridgetown Home Buyers

Inheritance size can be influenced by various factors, shaping the characteristics of a large inheritance. One significant determinant is the household’s income level. Generally, households in the top 5% of the income distribution tend to receive larger inheritances compared to those in the bottom 80%. So, if you come from a family with a higher income, there’s a higher likelihood of receiving a larger inheritance.

Another factor that plays a role in inheritance size is education level. Families where at least one parent has a college degree often leave larger inheritances compared to families without a college-educated parent. Education can sometimes lead to better financial opportunities and resources for accumulating wealth, which can be passed down as inheritances.

Race and ethnicity can also impact the size of an inheritance. On average, white families tend to receive larger inheritances compared to Black, Hispanic, and other families. While it’s important to acknowledge these disparities, it’s crucial to remember that each individual circumstance may vary, and not all families fit within these general trends.

Other determinants that can influence inheritance size include the number of heirs and the choices made by the donor in terms of estate planning strategies. These factors, along with income, education, and racial/ethnic background, collectively shape the size of an inheritance and contribute to its overall characteristics.

Tax Implications of Large Inheritances

When it comes to determining a large inheritance, it’s important to consider the tax implications that may arise. In the United States, inheritances are generally not subject to taxation thanks to the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption. As of 2023, this exemption is set at $12.92 million, which means that any inheritance amount below this threshold is not subject to federal estate taxes. This exemption provides a significant advantage for individuals receiving large inheritances, as they can enjoy their newfound wealth without the burden of additional taxes.

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However, it’s worth noting that there is an annual gift tax exclusion of $17,000 per person. This means that if the amount gifted to an individual exceeds $17,000 in a single year, the donor is required to file a gift tax return. While the recipient does not have to pay taxes on the gifted amount, it counts against the donor’s lifetime gift tax limit. Therefore, it’s important for both the donor and the recipient to be aware of this limit and consult with a financial advisor or tax professional to ensure compliance with gift tax regulations.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that tax laws are subject to change, so staying informed and seeking professional advice is crucial when dealing with a large inheritance amount. A financial advisor or tax professional can help navigate the complex tax landscape and provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances. They can help you understand the potential tax implications of your inheritance and develop a sound tax strategy to optimize your financial situation.


The size of a large inheritance is subjective and can vary depending on multiple factors. However, an inheritance of $100,000 or more is generally considered to be large. It is important to approach large inheritances with thoughtful planning and consideration, as managing a significant sum of money can come with its own challenges.

Seeking professional advice from estate planning attorneys or financial advisors can help ensure the inheritance is handled well and aligned with your long-term financial goals. These professionals can provide guidance on tax implications, investment strategies, and wealth management. By seeking their expertise, you can make informed decisions that will set you up for long-term financial success.

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Remember, managing a large inheritance is not just about the amount of money received, but also about making wise choices to protect and grow your wealth. Take your time to assess your financial goals and prioritize them accordingly. Whether it’s investing in real estate, starting a business, or saving for retirement, careful planning will help you make the most of your inheritance.

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