In Washington, District of Columbia, "estate planning" refers to the process by which a person makes arrangements related to their property after their death. It can (and should) also include personal issues that might come up immediately before and after a person's death.
Usually, the first thing a person thinks about when they think about estate planning is a will. A will dictates what occurs to a person's property after they die. In general, you can leave your property to whomever you want, and attach almost any condition to such gifts. In the vast majority of estate plans, a will is the central component. It is rarely the only one, however.
A clear estate plan will also contain instructions to your doctors about your preferences for end of life care, in case you become unable to express them. This is identified as a "living will." It should also include instructions about funeral arrangements and organ donation.
Perhaps most notably, your estate plan should make arrangements for the care and custody of your minor children, if you have any. Of course, you should discuss this matter with the person you intend to take custody of the children beforehand, to ensure that they are able and willing to provide proper care.
What Type of Estate Plan Do I Need in Washington, District of Columbia?
The answer to this question varies on your individual needs, your priorities, your health, and the size and nature of your estate.
If you are young and unmarried, estate planning likely doesn't need to be on your radar, unless you are very ill, independently wealthy, or perhaps if you work in a very hazardous job, such as the military.
If you're not married in Washington, District of Columbia, but have a life partner, estate planning is imperative. If you want your partner to be treated as your spouse, your estate plan should make arrangements to give him or her power of attorney in the event that you become incapacitated. Furthermore, your will should precisely name your partner as a beneficiary, if you want them to inherit any of your assets.
If you are elderly, and have a considerable amount of assets in Washington, District of Columbia, estate planning may be more essential at this stage of your life than any other. While estate planning deals with some morbid and unpleasant subjects (requiring us to confront the reality of our own mortality), it is necessary if you wish to live your life secure in the knowledge that your loved ones will be provided for to the extent that your assets allow.
Do I Need a Washington, District of Columbia Estate Planning Attorney?
In Washington, District of Columbia, estate planning is rarely simple, even if it's not the most confusing thing in the world. Given the importance of what's at stake (the financial security of your loved ones), a good estate plan is essential, as is the help of an attorney who specializes in wills, trusts, and estates law.