A constant message from the financial service industry is “You need to plan for retirement, and we’re here to help you.” But what if there are strategies that not only address retirement, but also increase your immediate access to money? Not so you can blow it, but to improve your well-being. Think about it for a moment: Are you happy with the size of your bank account?
The US income tax system relies on voluntary reporting by individuals, with just enough cross-checking (through W-2s, 1099s and other third-party documentation), and the possibility of individual audits to encourage compliance. But what happens when the cross-checking shows too many taxpayers are in need of individual attention? In an interesting bureaucratic twist, the Internal Revenue Service has opted for more voluntary reporting – while making individual attention very expensive for the taxpayer.
Welcome to the labyrinth of digital assets, where new technologies, privacy, identity theft, Terms of Service Agreements, and still-emerging law create a maze for beneficiaries, surviving family members and executors to muddle through. As attorney Victoria Blachly put it in the July/August issue of the American Bar’s Probate & Property, “The Internet is outrunning the law.”
Until a single person can afford to retire, a strong disability insurance program is a vital support item. With only one source of income in the household, any disruption could be devastating – and having protection at one’s employment through a worker’s compensation program is not enough; singles must make comprehensive disability coverage a priority.
A beneficiary can be either specific (a person identified by name and relationship), or a class designation (a group of individuals such as the “children of the insured”). Naming specific beneficiaries is usually straightforward, but poorly defined class designations can cause problems. Have you reviewed your beneficiaries in the past year?
The essence of giving is simple: what once was mine is now yours. But for a variety of reasons (financial and legal), the government also takes interest in our gift-giving, even to the point of assessing taxes on certain gifts. And because government is involved, the specifics and paperwork of giving can be complicated. However, an understanding of basic gift-giving concepts can make it possible for most people to give effectively and maximize the enjoyment from their gifts. The following section provides a broad overview of the Federal Gift Tax regulations.