Those lucky enough to benefit from the Great Wealth Transfer or another windfall, heed this financial advisor’s advice: Think twice (or five times) before buying that dream vacation home. You may come to regret it.
That’s according to Paul Karger, cofounder and managing partner of wealth advisory firm TwinFocus, which manages over $7 billion for ultrahigh-net-worth families. Karger advises all of his clients—who range from centimillionaires to billionaires—to wait six months to a year before making any big purchases when they come into sudden wealth. Give your emotions time to even out.
But the advice is applicable to anyone who receives an inheritance, is retiring, or, say, wins the Mega Millions’ record $1.58 billion jackpot. Though it can be tempting to go on a spending spree, any large purchase like a home needs to be thought through—even if you think you can easily afford it. There are plenty of unknown costs; they’re called money pits for a reason.
“I’ve seen clients purchase large homes in faraway locations that they ultimately realize they will not use frequently and end up being a major ongoing financial burden that took several years to sell,” Karger tells Fortune.
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It may sound like a nice problem to have, but Karger is serious, and mostly referring to second or third homes. There isn’t as big a market for these pieces of real estate as there is for primary residences, especially since the pandemic, and they can be extremely expensive—and illiquid. That can lead to trouble down the line, especially if you’re not prudent with the rest of your wealth. Though you may be able to afford to buy the home, there are plenty of monthly or annual upkeep costs that need to be accounted for ahead of time.
Of course, homes aren’t the only possible bad investments out there.
“I’ve also seen folks rush into new businesses with their newfound wealth, only to realize running businesses is a lot of work and never easy,” Karger says. “Just chill. Don’t make any major decisions or big commitments. Let things digest.”
Professional athletes are one of the more well-known examples of how sudden wealth can flop. In 2015, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 15.7% of NFL players filed for bankruptcy within 12 years of retirement, even if they played for a long time and made millions throughout their careers.
Lottery winners can also present cautionary tales. Although many do just fine with their winnings, there are plenty of stories of those who hit the jackpot only to lose it all and fall into financial distress.
“Don’t make any visible life changes. Don’t quit your job, don’t go out and buy a Ferrari, don’t buy a mansion,” Emily Irwin, managing director of advice and planning at Wells Fargo’s investing and wealth management division, recently told Fortune about coming into sudden wealth. You want to take your time and plan, ideally with a tax attorney and trusted financial advisor before making any major moves. “Maybe you have student loans you want to pay off, that makes sense. But try to avoid that mega-purchase.”
For those with familial wealth, Karger says it’s important for parents to start talking to their kids about what they can expect early—say, around the time they graduate from college or otherwise leave home on their own.
It can lessen some of the emotions—jealousy, greed—that can lead to some poor decision-making.
“There’s been a massive proliferation of wealth over the last 20 years,” says Karger. “You don’t want to do all this planning and not have had a conversation with your kids.”
Whether you’re planning for your retirement or your family’s future, Byline Bank’s Wealth Management team is ready to provide customized solutions for your financial needs. Get in touch.