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Estate planning is also to make things easier on family members

Of course, creating a District of Columbia estate plan is done in order to provide for the disposition of a resident's assets upon death. Wills, trusts and other documents allow a person to maintain control over where and how heirs and beneficiaries receive an inheritance. However, estate planning is also designed to make things easier for an individual's family members if he or she becomes incapacitated or passes away.

Without an estate plan of any kind, family members will have to go to court in order to be granted the right to take care of a loved one's estate after his or her death. This is also the case if the loved one is still alive, but is not able to make decisions due to an illness or injury. This could take up valuable time and economic resources even if family members are not arguing over who will be put in charge.

For instance, if a person becomes incapacitated, someone needs to be able to handle both health care and financial decisions on his or her behalf. Medical directives and durable powers of attorney appoint a trusted person or persons to handle these matters during difficult times. These documents can be as broad or specific as desired by the person creating them. Typically, wills and trusts also appoint a person or persons to handle the disposition of assets after death.

Without estate planning, family members may be left guessing what a District of Columbia resident would have wanted. Even so, those wishes may not even be carried out because the government would then be responsible for determining who receives that person's assets. Creating an estate plan is often considered the last act of love to a family since it will make their job at least a little easier.

Source: fool.com, "Estate Planning Checklist: How to Protect Your Future, Your Family, and Your Property", July 15, 2015

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