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August 2013 Archives

Washington, D.C. estate planning doesn't have to be confusing

Most everyone in the Washington, D.C. area has heard that they should have an estate plan. However, that next step of telling people what is included in estate planning doesn't happen as often. It is true that estate plans can vary depending on the needs of the person making the plan, but there are some basics that are applicable to all plans.The four basic estate planning documents that most every person in Washington, D.C. will need are the will, trust, living will and power of attorney. In order to determine exactly what kinds of documents a person needs, a full, detailed listing of a person's assets will be required. This list should include all of a person's assets, including any possible future inheritances. Once that list is compiled, it can be taken to a professional who will then review it and suggest a course of action.Every plan will include a will since this document will ensure that a person's wishes are followed upon death. Without a will, the state gets to determine what happens to a person's property. Trusts can be useful in keeping assets safe from taxes and creditors. Living wills spell out what medical treatments a person wants or doesn't want and appoints someone to make additional medical decisions on the person's behalf. Powers of attorney appoint someone to take over making decisions for a person in case of incapacitation.With the exception of some trusts, estate planning documents are only "activated" by the circumstances for which they were drafted. For instance, a power of attorney or living will is only used when a person becomes unable to make decisions covered by the documents for him or herself. A will is only used after a person passes away. Most of these documents can be changed, if needed.

Should you try to avoid probate in Washington, D.C.?

Now that the federal estate tax exemption has been raised to $5.25 million, there may be people in the Washington, D.C. area who don't believe they need their estate plan to avoid probate. However, that may not be the case. Even though no federal estate tax may be due on the majority of estates, that doesn't mean that probate is okay. Probate is not a federal process, but a state process with its own challenges.

Changes in Medicaid planning for elderly in Washington, D.C.

January 1, 2014, will mark the date for implementation of several provisions of the Affordable Care Act. One of the areas this may affect elderly Washington, D.C. residents is in Medicaid planning. Many elderly and their families rely on Medicaid to help pay for long-term care facilities along with other necessary medical treatment required by people as they age.

Adult kids and estate planning in Washington, DC

There are many older Washington, DC residents who are living either on their own or in an assisted living facility. Many of those elderly people are not regularly visited by their children. Right or wrong, when this happens, elderly parents may decide to cut-out those children when they are doing estate planning.

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