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Understanding Your "Rights" to Benefits

We are all no doubt familiar with the concept of a police officer being required to “read you your rights” based on the famous Miranda decision so many years ago. In our many financial contacts with government, there are a lot of areas where you need to know your rights and where no-one goes out of their way to explain them to you.

Consider if you will the morass of regulations, statutes, court cases and the like that describe your rights to your own money. You pay into Social Security, you contribute to your qualified plan at work, you put money in a bank or a brokerage account and guess what? You may be restricted in how and when you can access those funds; you may be penalized (or should we call it “assessed an additional tax”) when you take some money; you may choose (or not understand) the least desirable option for receiving benefits; you may pay more income tax than you should; your money may be frozen or confiscated; the list goes on and on.

What should you do? For most of us, the answer is simple. Get professional advice, even paying a bit for it can pay off hugely over time. You can try to work your way through the reams of pages of obfuscatory, redundant, obscure jargon to determine what to do and that might work. Remember, though, that courts and lawyers spend a great deal of time, effort and your money trying to figure out what those laws, regulations, rules and such really mean. 

Don’t neglect this – April 15 is a great time to be thinking about it. See your CPA and your financial adviser and get some assistance in understanding what you should do and why.

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