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The holidays are a good time to make estate planning choices

When District of Columbia residents gather for the holidays with their families, the last thing on their minds may be planning for their incapacitation or death. However, while family is gathered in one place, it may be a good idea to have some conversations in order to make some estate planning choices. The people whom an individual chooses to take control of his or her affairs in either event are key to making sure that his or her wishes are carried out as intended.

An individual may be tempted to make emotional decisions regarding who would be the best person or persons to handle the various tasks involved in managing an estate, depending on whether he or she is incapacitated or deceased. Doing so could potentially ruin even the best laid plans. Taking care of an individual's finances or making health care decisions on his or her behalf should be considered a job. Therefore, the decision of whom to appoint for what position should not be made based on emotion.

Any conversation with a family member should also include an explanation of what would be expected of him or her with regard to being an executor, trustee or attorney-in-fact, so that he or she can decide whether to serve. Having that person's input can help make the final determination of to whom a certain job should be given. Discussing these decisions openly with family could also convey a person's reasoning for choosing a certain individual in order to avoid -- or at least reduce -- any ill feelings among family members.

Ultimately, estate planning decisions belong to the District of Columbia resident creating his or her estate plan. Keeping that in mind, having the input of family members who may be directly affected by those decisions could prove invaluable. Making informed choices could be the difference between an individual's wishes being carried out as he or she intended.

Source: Forbes, "All In The Family: 6 Tips For Discussing Estate Plans With Loved Ones", Sheryl Nance-Nash, Nov. 28, 2014

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