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Estate planning does not have to be complicated to be effective

Estate plans are not only for the wealthy residents of the District of Columbia. Everyone could benefit from conducting even a minimal amount of estate planning. Otherwise, an individual's desires regarding the disposition of his or her assets may not be carried out. In addition, estate planning encompasses certain documentation meant to assist family members in the event an individual becomes unable to make decisions for himself or herself.

Without even the basic documentation, a family may be left to make difficult decisions regarding a person's care (in the case of incapacitation) and distribution of property (in the case of death). Family members would have no way of really knowing whether the wishes of their loved one were being respected. Even knowing this, many District of Columbia residents still do not have an estate plan due, in part, to the mistaken belief that it is a complicated process.

Once an inventory of a person's property is done, a will can be drawn up. For most people, the dollar amount of their assets will not require anything more complicated. Of course, if an individual's circumstances warrant additional documentation, it can be drafted and executed. A durable power of attorney and an advance medical directive can also be drafted and executed to account for incapacitation.

With just these three basic estate planning documents, family members are able to conduct the affairs of a loved one much more easily. Someone is designated to make decisions and carry out a person's wishes no matter what the circumstances. Not only does this provide a peace of mind for everyone involved, but it could also save thousands of dollars that would otherwise be spent in court trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.

Source: theintelligencer.com, Why you need an estate plan, Larry Zucksworth, March 5, 2014

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