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BMO Wealth Management Report: Survey Reveals the Money Decisions Americans Would Make After Receiving an Unexpected Windfall
  • New BMO report shows that most Americans would share a sudden financial windfall with loved ones and charities.
  • Majority of Americans would use their newfound fortune to pay down their debts.
  • As aging Americans transfer trillions of dollars in wealth to their heirs, it is even more essential to understand how retirement and estate planning can help to preserve wealth and leave a meaningful legacy.


CHICAGO, Dec. 10, 2018 /CNW/ - BMO Wealth Management (U.S.) today released a report revealing Americans' opinions on the effects of receiving a significant amount of money and what their goals would be for their newfound fortune. The report, A Sudden Windfall: A Blessing, Not a Burden, is based on a survey of more than 1,000 Americans aged 35 and older and highlights the objectives and the psychological effects tied to receiving a significant amount of money and/or assets.

The number of high-net-worth individuals in the U.S. is growing, with baby boomers currently inheriting an estimated $12 trillion in financial and non-financial assets. Receiving unplanned wealth without fully comprehending what to do or how to manage it can be overwhelming, but with the help of experts people can feel more at ease and better prepared to move forward.

Key survey findings show:

  • Nearly half of respondents (47 percent) identified their most important financial goal as achieving lifestyle goals in retirement, followed by increasing wealth (44 percent) and protecting current wealth (42 percent).
  • The primary goal for respondents if they were to receive a sudden financial windfall was sharing with family, friends and charity (53 percent), followed closely by paying off debts (51 percent) and investing in the stock market, a business or property (49 percent).
  • One-in-three respondents (36 percent) cited the importance of seeking advice to invest wisely in their investments and retirement plans in the event of a sudden windfall.
  • The main estate and legacy concerns tied to a sudden increase in wealth were helping others (29 percent), how to create a legacy with the money (16 percent) and how to avoid family conflict over money (15 percent).


"Receiving an unexpected amount of money or assets can bring feelings of relief, joy and responsibilty, so it's critical to take time to consider all the options," said Tania Slade, National Head of Wealth Planning, BMO Wealth Management (U.S.). "Engaging a team of experts to discuss options and provide insight on decisions, outline the impact on lifestyle cash flow requirements and estate planning goals and, most importantly, advise on growing and preserving that new wealth will set the scene for a successful financial future."

BMO offers the following tips to help manage a sudden windfall:

  1. Seek experts: Find the appropriate team (financial planner, tax advisor, estate planning attorney etc.) who will help you better understand your newfound wealth and how to manage it.
  2. Find a place for the money: A financial planner will assess your individual situation and make recommendations based on your needs and future financial goals.
  3. Make plans: Talk with your family and communicate the intentions outlined in your wealth plan. Establishing a wealth plan will help you reach your financial goals by guiding you throughout the process with specific tips. 
  4. Understand tax implications: Knowing the ins and outs of tax filing will help alleviate stress and clarify questions around taxable income and potential reductions.
  5. Establish your legacy: Determine what contribution you would like to make to your family and community, and communicate these desires to your family, especially if you want them to continue your legacy.


To view a copy of the full report, which includes additional survey findings and tips for managing a sudden windfall, please visit:

About BMO Wealth Management U.S.

BMO Wealth Management serves mass affluent, high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals and families with a full suite of wealth management solutions including wealth planning, banking and borrowing, investment management, retirement planning, trust and estate services, philanthropy, insurance and risk management, tax planning and ultra-high net worth services.  With over 140 offices across 16 states and international offices in Canada, Hong Kong, and Singapore, BMO Wealth Management provides guidance and planning advice combined with individualized service and local experience. As of October 31, 2018, BMO Wealth Management had assets under management of US$46 billion and assets under administration of US$78 billion. BMO Wealth Management is supported by the resources and stability of one of North America's premier financial services organizations—BMO Financial Group. Visit

BMO Wealth Management is a brand name that refers to BMO Harris Bank N.A. and a number of its affiliates. BMO Harris Bank N.A. and its affiliates do not provide tax or legal advice to clients; these matters should be discussed with the appropriate tax or legal advisor.


SOURCE BMO Harris Bank

For further information: Media contact: Emily Penate, Chicago,, (312) 461-7956