District of Columbia couples who created their estate plans a few years ago may want to consider updating or replacing it. In the past, each spouse had a certain amount of assets that could pass to heirs and beneficiaries free of federal estate taxes. Now, however, the concept of "portability" has changed how married couples can use the federal estate tax exemption during estate planning.
Washington, DC parents who have young children usually spend a great deal of time worrying about their safety. Numerous dangers lurk even in the child's home when they are young and exploring their world. However, it is the danger of losing their parents that is the most unpredictable. Estate planning may not be able to prevent the untimely demise of a child's parents, but it can provide a plan for who will care for him or her in the event such a tragedy occurs.
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.
Younger Washington, DC, residents most likely do not feel any urgency in preparing for incapacitation or death. They have their whole lives ahead of them and believe that there will be time for estate planning when they are older. Hopefully, that is true, but catastrophic accidents or illnesses can occur without warning and, without some estate plan in place, family members could be left scrambling and spending a significant amount of time and money in court.
A great deal of detail and attention goes into creating an estate plan. Family members and the executor of the estate will need to have access to the information and details regarding the assets and other estate property in order to properly administer it. Otherwise, all of the time and effort put into estate planning by a District of Columbia resident could be for naught.
The definition of family has changed drastically in recent years. Many families in the District of Columbia are so-called "blended families," in which one or both spouses have children from a prior relationship and may also have children together. Attempting to satisfy everyone in this situation creates a challenge when it comes to estate planning.
When it comes to estate planning documents, most District of Columbia residents immediately think of wills and trust. Where it is true that these documents are an integral part of any estate plan, they are not the only documents every resident needs. A durable power of attorney and advance medical directive are crucial in the event that an individual becomes unable to make financial and/or health care decisions alone.
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.
Most District of Columbia parents want to be sure that their children are provided for after their deaths. However, many of them are unsure how to achieve this goal. Estate planning can accomplish this goal using three tools: wills, trusts and beneficiary designations.
Part of the function of a Washington, D.C. resident's estate plan is to make things easier for the family members that are left behind. The probate process can be complex, time consuming and costly without proper planning ahead of time. In addition to a will, a revocable living trust can help family members cut through a good portion of the process since the property held in the trust does not have to go through probate.