When a celebrity passes away, average Americans often learn a number of estate planning lessons. Celebrities who achieve a significant degree of wealth often fall into one of two categories: those with excellent estate plans and those with estate plans that are seriously lacking or nonexistent. Either way, there is plenty to be learned by Washington, D.C. residents from observing the actions taken by others when it comes to trusts and estates.
Choosing an executor for an estate is one of the most critical decisions in estate planning. Whomever a District of Columbia resident chooses must be able and willing to perform numerous tasks while carrying out his or her wishes. Having at least a basic understanding of the probate process may help make a determination of who would be best for the position and how to construct an estate plan to make the process as easy as possible.
A Washington, DC, resident may have a cause that is close to his or her heart, and he or she may want to give a portion of his or her estate to a charity that champions that cause. Of course, it is possible to donate directly to the charity, but in some cases, it may make more sense to establish a charitable trust. Charitable trusts can be set up in a number of ways to benefit its creator, his or her heirs and the organization.
By now, many District of Columbia residents know that prior to his death, Robin Williams drafted his estate plan in order to provide for his current wife and children. His painstaking effort when setting up trusts, however, failed to keep his family out of court. His widow is claiming that provisions of the children's trusts lack specificity. She says that she is asking the court for clarification.
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.
Many disabled adults in the Washington, DC, area are provided certain public benefits such as Section 8 housing, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Even though these benefits are immensely helpful, they ordinarily do not cover more than the minimum living requirements of the individual. Supplemental needs trusts can provide additional resources to enhance the quality of a disabled person's life.
Since the federal estate tax exemption is in the millions of dollars, most Washington, DC, residents no longer need trusts as a way to avoid their heirs having to pay estate taxes. However, taxes are not the only reason that living trusts are beneficial. These documents provide numerous benefits that can help individuals with their estate-planning goals.
District of Columbia residents may hear from time to time that it is important to have an estate plan that includes at its core a will. People are told that their wills ensure that their assets will be distributed in accordance with their wishes. Some may not be familiar, however, with what the probate process entails.
Many people have a misconception that trusts are only for the wealthy. In truth, anyone can benefit from using this estate-planning tool if he or she has a home or business or just wants to have better control over how his or her assets are inherited. When viewed in this light, the number of Washington, DC, residents who would benefit from trusts is higher than most people think.
In addition to providing for family after passing away, estate planning generally has two main goals -- to reduce or eliminate probate and estate taxes. Trusts are often useful in meeting these and other goals for a Washington, DC resident. The question that each resident typically needs to answer is whether a trust is necessary to meet an individual's desires.