Everyone leaves behind an estate when they pass away. A DC estate planning lawyer can provide you with assistance to help ensure your estate is protected from creditors, assessed the minimum of taxes, and transfers to your loved ones without undue trouble. Estate planning is about more than just creating a will to say what happens to your assets after you die.
Contact a trusts and estates attorney in the Washington, DC area to learn what you should include in your estate plan and for assistance creating a comprehensive plan to secure your future.
Why You Need a DC Estate Planning Lawyer
If you pass away before creating a last will and testament, intestacy laws will determine who inherits your property. This usually means spouses and children inherit first, followed by more distant relatives if you are not married and do not have kids. Individuals who have been married more than once may need to take into account their ex-spouse’s estate. Your estate is vulnerable to creditor claims and, if it is large enough, taxes could be assessed on the estate.
Your estate can also be tangled up in the courts for a long time if there are questions about who inherits, and your family members may devolve into fighting over your assets at the same time as they are forced to cope with grief. Even if you do not yet have children or believe yourself too young, it is never too early to begin estate planning. If you do have a last will and testament, a DC estate planning lawyer can also explain to you the impact of that will on the rest of your estate.
A DC estate planning lawyer will help you to create a will and take steps to ensure your wishes are respected, including assigning beneficiary designations. However, your attorney does so much more than just provide assistance with drafting a simple document expressing your wishes for after your death. Your lawyer can help you to take care of other important estate planning steps, like providing details on what kinds of medical treatments you want to receive in the future or who should make your decisions for you if you become unable to act in your own best interests. Estate administration is crucial after planning, and an attorney can help.
Estate planning can also include things like creating a trust to protect your assets from creditors coming after you or your heirs, or even from the reach of the government if you want to qualify for Medicaid for nursing home care. If a person is interested in naming a non-US citizen as a guardian, an attorney will be very helpful in that process, because they can provide advice on all the nuances and complications a person might face. Because every person’s situation is different, you should have a DC estate planning lawyer provide you with guidance to develop your own unique plan. Additionally, if you are not a US citizen, but are interested in planning an estate, an experienced attorney can provide valuable information on complications.
Estate Planning Laws in DC
Division III of the Washington, DC code establishes the rules for how estates are treated in the state. Title 18 of this Division addresses laws related to wills in DC; while Title 19 establishes trust laws; and Title 20 sets the rules for probate and estate administration. Speaking with an attorney will also help clarify some unfamiliar terms and laws when it comes to planning an estate.
Each of these different code sections provides details you need to know as part of the estate planning process. For example, Washington, DC Code Section 18-102 makes clear: “a will, testament, or codicil is not valid for any purpose unless the person making it is at least 18 years of age and of sound and disposing mind and capable of executing a valid deed or contract.” You must create a will and take care of other estate planning tasks before you become mentally incapacitated and forever lose the opportunity to speak for yourself about what happens to your body and your assets.
Contact a DC Estate Planning Lawyer Today
The future is always uncertain and tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye. Be sure you have taken care of yourself and your loved ones with the creation of a comprehensive plan addressing various issues and your assets. If you just moved into the area from a different jurisdiction, or if you have recently experienced a change in your family dynamic, it is important to speak with an attorney and update your plan. Call a DC estate planning lawyer today to get started.