There may come a time in your life when you or a family member may need someone else to make decisions on your behalf. Estate planning can allow you -- or your family members -- to retain control of whom that person will be. Fortunately, even if you have not done any pre-planning, the laws of the District of Columbia allow a guardianship to be ordered to permit someone appointed by the court to handle the financial and medical issues in the event of incapacitation.
Nearly every Washington, DC resident has some sort of online presence, even if it is just a social media page or photo-sharing site. Some people have financial accounts that are only accessible online, along with other digital assets. Even so, legislatures and other lawmaking bodies have not caught up with the available technology. Therefore, digital assets need to be taken care of during estate planning in order to ensure that they are dealt with appropriately after death.
As Washington, DC residents age, they and their families might become increasingly concerned with the possibility of contracting Alzheimer's disease. Plenty of information is available regarding the effects of the condition on patients once it presents, but since it progresses at different rates in different people, there is no way to pinpoint when an individual's symptoms will leave him or her permanently incapacitated. Therefore, the sooner that you or an elderly family member engages in estate planning, the better.
Many Washington, DC residents are married to people who are not citizens of the United States. This can make estate planning a challenge since a couple in which one spouse is not a citizen will not receive the same marital exemption as spouses who are both U.S. citizens. Qualified Domestic Trusts (QDOT) provide many couples who are not both citizens of this country with a viable estate planning option.
When it comes to estate planning, there are several basic documents all people should consider and some that may not make sense for every situation. Choosing between a will or trust, or opting for both, is a big part of the estate-planning process. While wills can be fairly straightforward, there are actually several different kinds of trusts that can offer residents of the District of Columbia more comprehensive coverage.