This is especially true because, while some windfalls follow exciting and positive life events—such as the sale of a successful business or winning the lottery—others are the result of a divorce or a loved one's death.
Whatever the circumstances, it's common for people who've come into money to experience a significant amount of emotional stress, both preceding and during the receipt of new funds or assets. It is important, therefore, to have a plan in place to guide you through the process of receiving—and dealing with—a financial windfall.
(Read more: Make sure you don't crack your nest egg)
Step 1: Do nothing. Absolutely nothing. You must not underestimate the emotional and physiological burdens that receipt of life-changing money can impose. After a client of mine received his payoff from the lucrative sale of a business he'd helped bootstrap, he wisely submitted to the weight of his windfall by setting aside sufficient time to purposefully accomplish nothing at all.
This "healing" process becomes even more important when the windfall is the result of negative circumstances. It is good common sense to wait at least one year before making any life-altering decisions.
Healing will help you make the next set of important decisions with greater clarity.
(Read more: My, oh myRA, what a misguided mess)