What is considered a small inheritance?

Understanding “What is Considered a Small Inheritance?” in the US


Receiving an inheritance can be a significant financial event that requires careful consideration and planning. But what exactly is considered a small inheritance? In this article, we will explore the size thresholds, guidelines, and factors that determine the scale of inheritances in the United States.

Before delving into the specifics, let’s take a look at some key statistics. From 2016 to 2019, the average inheritance in the US amounted to $46,200. However, there is a notable disparity between the top 1% who received an average of $719,000 and the bottom 50% who received a mere $9,700. These figures demonstrate the significant variation in inheritance amounts across different individuals and families.

Furthermore, the value of an inheritance can also be influenced by factors such as parental education. Families with a college-educated parent tend to receive inheritances that are approximately $17,000 higher than families without a college-educated parent.

It’s important to note that the size of an inheritance can have significant implications for tax purposes. For instance, the annual gift tax exclusion for 2023 is set at $17,000 per person, while the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption stands at $12.92 million.

While many individuals express a desire to leave an inheritance, only 64% feel on track to do so. Planning to give or receive an inheritance requires careful thought and consideration. Consulting with an estate planning attorney or financial advisor can provide valuable guidance in navigating this process.

Inherited wealth has played a significant role in shaping the U.S. private wealth landscape for over a century, accounting for approximately 50% to 60% of total private wealth. Expectations of receiving an inheritance are also influenced by parental education, with children of college-educated parents more likely to anticipate receiving an inheritance.

When it comes to taxes on inheritances, it’s important to understand that they can vary depending on the type of inheritance. However, it’s worth noting that most inheritances are typically tax-exempt.

Ultimately, determining what is considered a small inheritance depends on various factors, including personal circumstances and financial goals. If you find yourself in the position of receiving an inheritance, consulting with a financial advisor or tax professional can help you make well-informed decisions about the best course of action.

Key Takeaways:

  • Average U.S. inheritance between 2016-2019 was $46,200
  • Significant variation in inheritance amounts exists, with the top 1% receiving an average of $719,000 and the bottom 50% receiving $9,700
  • Parental education can influence the value of an inheritance, with college-educated parents leaving higher sums
  • Consulting with professionals such as estate planning attorneys or financial advisors is recommended for effective inheritance planning
  • Inherited wealth has played a significant role in the U.S. private wealth landscape for over a century
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What is Considered a Small Inheritance?

When it comes to determining what is considered a small inheritance, the threshold can vary depending on various factors. However, the median inheritance in 2016 was $55,000, making inheritances below $20,000 generally categorized as “small.” While this may seem modest compared to larger sums, small inheritances can still be significant and have the potential to improve your financial situation.

Receiving a small inheritance provides an opportunity to make strategic financial decisions. One option is to use the funds to pay off any outstanding debts, which can provide a sense of relief and help improve your credit standing. Additionally, setting up a rainy-day fund or emergency savings account is another wise choice. These funds can act as a safety net and provide financial stability in case of unexpected expenses or emergencies.

Another potential course of action is to consider investing a small inheritance. By putting the money to work in investment vehicles such as stocks, bonds, or real estate, you may have the opportunity to grow your wealth over time. However, it’s important to carefully research and assess the risks associated with different investment options before making any decisions. Consulting with a financial advisor can help you navigate the investment landscape and make informed choices based on your goals and risk tolerance.

Using a Small Inheritance Responsibly

While it can be tempting to use a small inheritance for immediate gratification, taking a thoughtful approach and considering the long-term benefits is advisable. By using the funds to pay off debt, build savings, or explore investment opportunities, you can ensure that your small inheritance has a lasting impact on your financial well-being. Remember, every dollar counts, and even a small inheritance can make a big difference in your financial journey.

What is Considered a Large Inheritance?

When it comes to determining what constitutes a large inheritance, the threshold tends to be anything over $100,000. Inheritances of this size can significantly impact your financial situation and provide opportunities for long-term financial stability. Whether you receive a large sum of money from a relative, a close friend, or even through a trust or will, it’s important to have a plan in place.

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Once you have received a large inheritance, one of the first steps to consider is paying off any outstanding debts. Clearing your debts can provide a solid foundation for your financial future and help you better manage your newfound wealth. Additionally, it’s advisable to consult with a financial advisor who can provide guidance on investment options that align with your goals and risk tolerance.

When managing a large inheritance, take the time to evaluate your financial situation and set clear objectives. This will allow you to make informed decisions and ensure that your inheritance is used wisely. Whether you choose to invest in real estate, stocks, or bonds, having a comprehensive financial plan in place will help you maximize the benefits of your inheritance while minimizing any potential risks.

Considering Your Options

Keep in mind that managing a large inheritance is a personal journey, and what works for one person may not work for another. Take into account your individual circumstances, consult with professionals such as financial advisors, and explore the various options available to you. By approaching your inheritance with care and making well-informed choices, you can leverage your newfound wealth to create a secure and prosperous future.

What to Do With Inheritance Money

Understanding "What is Considered a Small Inheritance?" in the US Bridgetown Home Buyers

When you receive an inheritance, it’s important to take the time to evaluate your financial situation and make informed decisions about how to use the money. Managing inheritance money can have a significant impact on your financial future, so careful planning is key.

Paying off debt: One option to consider is using your inheritance to pay off any outstanding debts you may have. Clearing your debt can free up your monthly budget and give you a fresh start financially. It can also help improve your credit score and provide peace of mind.

Investing: Another smart move is to invest your inheritance. Investing can help grow your wealth over time and potentially provide a source of passive income. Consult with a financial advisor to determine the best investment options based on your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

Setting up trust accounts: If you want to ensure that your inheritance benefits future generations, you may consider setting up trust accounts. Trusts allow you to control how and when your assets are distributed, providing protection and flexibility for your loved ones.

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These are just a few options to consider when deciding what to do with your inheritance money. Remember, every individual’s financial situation is unique, so it’s important to assess your goals, consult with professionals, and make decisions that align with your long-term plans.


Understanding the size and implications of an inheritance is crucial for proper financial planning. In the United States, the average inheritance between 2016 and 2019 was $46,200, but this amount varied significantly based on income and educational background. While the top 1% received an average inheritance of $719,000, the bottom 50% received only $9,700.

Receiving a small inheritance, typically below $20,000, can still have a positive impact on your financial situation. It is important to consider your individual circumstances and prioritize your financial goals. Whether it’s paying off debt, building an emergency fund, or investing in a retirement account, using a small inheritance wisely can set you on a path towards financial stability.

On the other hand, a large inheritance, generally exceeding $100,000, requires careful planning and consideration. Take the time to assess your financial situation, evaluate your goals, and consult with professionals like financial advisors. With their guidance, you can make informed decisions that align with your long-term objectives, such as paying off debt, exploring investment opportunities, or setting up trust accounts.

In conclusion, receiving an inheritance can be a significant event in your financial journey. Whether it’s a small or large amount, taking the time to plan and strategize will help you make the most of your inheritance. Consider consulting with estate planning attorneys or financial advisors to ensure that your decisions are aligned with your specific needs and goals. Remember, each inheritance is unique, so tailor your approach to your personal circumstances for a brighter financial future.

– How Does Understanding Genetics Help in Determining Inheritance in the US?

Understanding genetics is crucial in determining inheritance in the US. For instance, the example of inheritance in genetics can help predict the likelihood of certain genetic conditions being passed down from parent to child. This knowledge can inform medical decisions and help individuals and families better understand their health risks.

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