For Mark Roberts’ Use: You might think that you know exactly what you’d do with a windfall, such as an inheritance. But you might be surprised at how the emotional impact derails you, especially if the money comes on top of another event (such as a death). To make the most of your sudden wealth, follow these seven steps if you find yourself the recipient of a windfall of cash.

Wait. Especially if the windfall is unexpected or tied to a death, give yourself time to work through emotions first. It’s rarely a good idea to make money decisions under stress.

Stash the cash somewhere safe. An FDIC-insured savings or money market account is covered for up to $250,000, so long as the bank is insured. Plus, the money will earn interest while you assess your options.

Evaluate your current financial status. You need a solid understanding of where you are, financially, before you decide where you’re going next. In particular, examine your assets, debts and plans for the future (like retirement).

Consider debts first. Paying off debts is one of the most freeing things you can ever do. Plus, now that your income isn’t going toward interest and fees any longer, you can put more of it toward a retirement plan or some other goal.

Establish a rainy day fund. You might also consider keeping some of the windfall in that savings or money market account, for future emergencies. With those covered, you won’t ever be tempted to take on unnecessary debt while under duress.

Splurge cautiously. If you’ve planned for future emergencies, have a healthy retirement fund, and have paid off debts, there’s certainly nothing wrong with treating yourself. Just make sure it’s something meaningful, that will bring long-term satisfaction rather than short-term fun.

Plan for retirement. You wouldn’t want to reach retirement and have regrets over how you spent your windfall. Schedule a meeting with us, and we can help you evaluate your current retirement plan. Then together we can make decisions on how to leverage your unexpected gifts to your best advantage for the rest of your life.