Your finances: Investing lump-sum windfalls
Here's a happy headache to have: Money might fall into your lap and you'll have to figure out how to manage it.
There are many reasons for that: Thousands of auto industry retirees have been offered lump-sum pension buyouts. Other workers may be offered early retirements, lump sums in lieu of monthly pension payments, or 401(k) rollovers when they leave their jobs.
Plus, legal settlements, life insurance payouts and the rare big lottery prize. Not to mention inheritances.
Some financial advisers are gearing up programs and products aimed at people who suddenly have enough money to worry about.
Here are some tips from financial professionals:
Decide if you really want it. If you have the choice of a lifetime pension or a lump sum, you may prefer to stick with the pension. That's what almost all of the auto-industry retirees have decided, said David Kudla, a Detroit-area money manager.
There's a reason for that: A company pension often is the cheapest and safest way to get the promise of lifetime income.
Tuck it away safely. There is seldom a reason to rush when you are committing new money to invest. You can keep it all in a bank account. Or you could keep it in a brokerage money market fund or ultra short-term bond fund while you decide how to deploy it.
Think about taxes early. If you're taking a pension distribution or 401(k) payout, make sure you roll it over quickly into an appropriate tax-deferred rollover individual retirement account.
Treat the money as special, but in your own way. You may inherit shares of a company that was important to your parents or grandparents, but that doesn't mean that you should own the stock forever. You can use unwanted shares to make a contribution to a church or organization important to your family, or sell the shares and use some of the money for a valued purpose, such as college or home improvements.
Deploy it gradually. Generally speaking, new money should be invested so that it fits your overall retirement and investment strategy. But unless the new money is a very small percentage of everything you own, don't invest it all at once.
Follow that rule for annuities, too. Rande Spiegelman, vice president of financial planning for the Schwab Center for Financial Research at Charles Schwab Corp., often recommends immediate fixed annuities for retirees with lump sums that they have to make last.
Get help. Especially if you're dealing with a life-changing amount of money, it's good to get impartial advice from a planner who is knowledgeable about taxes and investing and who does not sell products.