Estate tax planning is very important to preserving your wealth for future generations. Knowing your potential estate tax liability is a great place to start your estate planning. Financial and estate planning can range from a basic will to a more complex trust to a full-fledged foundation to ensure that after you die your assets are disposed of in a way that complies with your wishes.
A basic will won't protect you from probate. If you leave anything more than a small amount of property through financial and estate planning, probate court proceedings will probably be necessary after your death. Although it varies from state to state, probate can take six months or a year, and eat up three to five percent of your estate in lawyers' and court fees. And your beneficiaries will probably get little or nothing until probate is complete. Even if you don't opt for more elaborate estate planning, it's probably a good idea to consult with a reputable financial planner to see if you need more than a basic will.
By and large, if you are under age 50 and don't expect to leave assets valuable enough to require estate tax planning, you can probably get by with only a basic will. But as you grow older and acquire more property, you may want to engage in more sophisticated estate planning. Solid financial and estate planning and will estate planning can be done on one's own, but it's probably better to play it safe. Still, you can find plenty of internet resources where you can find an estate planning checklist to get you started.
The most basic step in estate planning is writing a will. Will estate planning is crucial if you are concerned about the dispostion of your assets after your death. If you don't make a will, state law will determine who gets your property, and you may not agree with their choices. If you still have children at home, a judge may decide who will raise them. In your will, you can make these decisions yourself. If all you need is a basic will, you can confidently use a good self-help book or software to make a legally binding will.
The history of Social Security begins in the latter days of the Great Depression. Universal guaranteed retirement money for all; the Social Security Act of 1935 offered an attractive promise to Americans struggling to make it through the Great Depression. No wonder it met with political success. The government pledged that if workers paid a Social Security tax on all of their wages, they would be supported in their old age.
Social Security has been funded by FICA contributions from your paycheck. The current model of Social Security reform advocated by the White House would use private accounts to support the Social Security trust fund. Ironically, most economists and experts point out that setting up private accounts would run down the Social Security Trust much faster.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|