Questions of what happens to our possession after we die lie at the heart of every estate plan. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, therefore, to learn that the culture responsible for building some of the largest monuments ever constructed as a way to bring property into the afterlife was also the first to utilize a last will and testament. Historians say that as early as 1,800 B.C., ancient Egyptians were using wills as a way to preserve inheritance choices. Later, in ancient Roman, the will saw not only wide-spread use, but also the codification of formal requirements for its creation.
Fun Facts About Estate Planning 2. Blame war, and/or John Adams, and/or the French for estate taxes.
Some of the more significant changes in recent estate planning law have involved the estate tax. Estate taxes are federal taxes that apply to the money and people leave behind after they die. These taxes take a portion of the property people leave behind as inheritances. (Currently, the estate tax only applies to individuals who leave behind estates worth in excess of $5.3 million.)
The estate tax itself has a long and storied history in the United States. The first estate tax came to be in July of 1797, when President John Adams signed into law a tax requiring the purchase of federally-issued stamps for wills and estates. The law came about because the federal government, fearing an impending war with France, needed to build a Navy.
Congress abolished the original estate tax in 1802, but it kept coming back over the years, primarily because of wars. Congress passed a new estate tax in 1862 to pay for the Civil War, then abolished it in 1870. The law came back in 1898 because of the Spanish-American War, and was then abolished again 4 years later. In 1916 it reappeared again, and has remained since then.
Fun Facts About Estate Planning 3. North Carolina born President Andrew Johnson died without a will.
Making an estate is, as any estate planning lawyer knows, not a legally-required activity. You don’t have to write a will or make any estate planning choices if you don’t want to.
In fact, some of our most well known historical figures have died without leaving behind a will or estate plan of any kind, including America’s 7th president, and North Carolina native, Andrew Johnson.
After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, then Vice President Andrew Johnson became president in 1865, and served until 1869. After leaving office, Johnson, at age 66, suffered a series of strokes in July of 1875 that lead to his death. Like his predecessor, Johnson died intestate, meaning he left behind no last will and testament.