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Simple estate planning can backfire on Washington, DC, residents

When some Washington, DC, residents are advised to create an estate plan, they may decide not to because so many other people's estates are settled without going through this process, and they believe it will work for them as well. Simple, right? Not necessarily, because simply letting your assets be divided through the laws of intestacy can backfire. Without estate planning, there is no way to guarantee who will receive an individual's assets or to guarantee that the beneficiaries will handle their inheritances responsibly.

This is also just the tip of the iceberg of the issues that surviving family members will go through if a loved one dies without an estate plan. All of the person's assets will have to go through probate, which can be a time-consuming and costly process. By the time it is over, there may not be much left for the individual's heirs.

Furthermore, if the fact that the divorce rate in the United States hovers around 50 percent, many people are remarried, and one or both of them may have children from a prior relationship. Without an estate plan, even the home shared with a new spouse may not end up being 100 percent owned by the surviving spouse at the end of the probate process. In many cases, this is not what the Washington, DC, resident would have wanted.

In order to maintain control of where assets go after death, estate planning is necessary. It may not be a pleasant topic to ponder, but in the end, it will make the lives of already grieving family members easier. Moreover, the individual can have peace of mind that he or she has made arrangements to care for family members even after death.

Source: greenbaypressgazette.com, "Simple can get complicated in estate planning", Michael Maas, Aug. 24, 2015

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