Estate Planning in Washington DC
Benjamin Franklin once said: “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” At The Iwashko Law Firm, we can help you plan for the former and minimize the latter through quality estate planning resources at an affordable price. By creating customized Living Trusts, simple and complex Estate Plans (“Wills”), Powers of Attorney, Irrevocable Trusts, and Advanced Medical Directives, we can help you and your family preserve their wealth, minimizing estate taxes and probate. We recognize that estate planning is about more than just money and things – it is about preserving your family’s legacy for future generations.
We understand that planning for the future can be daunting. It is not at all uncommon for people to spend weeks planning an annual vacation while dedicated no time whatsoever to their own financial future. For these reasons, we have made ourselves available to assist clients with all of their estate planning needs.
Through asset protection planning, we assist small businesses by legally insulating their assets from creditors and potential plaintiffs. A well-structured asset protection plan discourages lawsuits and, in the event that you are sued, makes it very difficult for plaintiffs and creditors to reach your assets.
The Iwashko Law Firm strives to provide excellent estate planning services that meet our clients’ unique needs. In order to do so, we work closely with our clients throughout the estate planning process.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private matters, business, or some other legal matter. POAs are broadly categorized in two classifications: 1) a General Power of Attorney; and 2) a Special Power of Attorney.
A General Power of Attorney provides broad powers to a person (known as an agent or attorney-in-fact) to act on your behalf. A General Power of Attorney gives broad, sweeping powers to your Agent that, essentially, allows them to conduct any business that you would be able to conduct on your own, including: selling or gifting away property; handling financial and business transactions; settling legal claims; buying insurance; operating business interests; and employing professionals. General Powers of attorney are useful if you will be out of the country for an extended period of time and need someone to handle certain matters.
A Special Power of Attorney allows you to specify precisely what powers an Agent may exercise on your behalf. This is often used when one cannot handle certain affairs due to other commitments or health reasons; e.g., selling a car.
Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament, or “Will” for short, is arguably the single most important estate planning document. A properly drafted Will ensures that your wishes for how your estate is administrated and dispersed at your death are realized. Individuals who die without a Will (a/k/a, “intestate”) are subject to the laws governing intestate succession, which carries large fees from the State which could easily be avoided by simply having a Will. It is very unlikely that a “Will” drafted by a client will meet the legal requirements for a valid Last Will and Testament.
Although many discount services are available online to purchase a Will for a small fee, this is not the same as a professionally prepared Will drafted by an attorney. Similarly, you can order a shoe off the internet that technically meets the definition of a shoe, but that in no way guarantees that the shoe will fit the wearer.
As many can attest, you don’t have to be old to die. Death comes to us all, but rarely at the time we prefer. Having a comprehensive, detailed, and properly drafted Will ensures your estate is transferred to your named beneficiaries according to your wishes and brings a measure of stability to your loved ones at an otherwise traumatic time.
At The Iwashko Law Firm, we will educate you in the estate planning process, work with you to plan all aspects of your Will, and provide the attention to detail you deserve to ensure that your estate planning needs are met.
The Trust is the most powerful financial invention of Anglo-American jurisprudence. An Inter-Vivos or “Living Trust” is a legal construct where property is held by one party for the benefit of another party. The person who creates a trust is known as the “Settlor” or “Grantor,” who transfers property to a Trustee. The Trustee holds that property for the Trust’s named beneficiaries. Living Trusts go into effect during the lifetime of the Grantor and can be modified according to the Grantor’s wishes. Most importantly, Living Trusts avoid probate, keeping more of your estate’s value intact as opposed to enriching the State.
Revocable trusts can be changed during the lifetime of the Grantor and require the Grantor’s property held in Trust to be retitled in the name of the Trust. Revocable Trusts do not avoid estate taxes. Property in Trust is not protected from future creditors of the grantor during his lifetime. Additionally, if a beneficiary divorces their spouse, that spouse may still be entitled to property in the Trust.
Assets placed in an Irrevocable Trusts cannot be taken back out by the Grantor; however, the Grantor is entitled to all trust income, including interest and dividends. After five years, property held in Irrevocable Trusts cannot be used by Medicaid to offset payments for the Grantor’s long-term healthcare, ensuring that property held in Trust are directly inherited by beneficiaries and not used to pay for Medicaid. Additionally, Irrevocable Trusts avoid estate taxes since capital gains are erased upon the transfer of property to the Trusts beneficiaries.
Advanced Medical Directives
An Advanced Medical Directive (“AMD”), also known as “living will,” is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves due to illness or incapacity. And AMD typically leaves instructions for treatment, life support, and other types of care. An AMD is critical for individuals wishing to be kept alive (or vice versa) while in a persistent vegetative state.
By planning ahead, you can get the medical care you desire, avoid unnecessary suffering, and relieve loved ones of having to make certain difficult decisions during times of great emotional difficulty. In addition, they help reduce confusion or disagreement about the choices you desire for people to make on your behalf.
Advance directives aren’t only for the elderly; you can become incapacitated at any age for any number of reasons. Being prepared for the unexpected is what separates intelligent people from everyone else.