Estate Planning

location2District of Columbia Mayor Muriel E. Bowser quietly approved legislation making the District the seventh jurisdiction in the United States to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives legally. The legislation is modeled after the nation’s first physician-assisted suicide law, enacted in Oregon. Voters have approved similar laws in Washington state and Colorado, as have as the legislatures of Vermont and California. The practice is considered legal in Montana because of a court ruling. The DC law will allow doctors to prescribe fatal medication to patients with less than six months to live. Patients must make two requests over a period of two weeks and ingest the drugs themselves. It is unclear whether the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress will exercise its power to overturn the new law. Read more here:   George F. Will, in the Washington Post, writes a thoughtful piece about some of the ethical and legal aspects of a person's right to end his or her life highlighting, of course, Brittany Maynard's choice last year to move to Oregon to be relieved of the suffering caused by terminal brain cancer. The article includes a particularly insightful quote by one advocate of giving people more freedom to manage death: "I am doing everything I can to extend my life. Nobody should have the right to prolong my death." The full article can be found at: The Washington Post - Click Here Three states have laws on the books that provide a right to die, including Vermont, Washington and Oregon, with a recent case making the news in Vermont. See This is an issue that Johnson Law Group clients are increasingly concerned about as they undertake planning for life transitions. Nationally, the issue has taken on greater prominence after Brittany Maynard's well-publicized decision last year to move to Oregon and end her life due to an inoperable brain tumor. Diane Rehm, the NPR host, also has focused on the issue, after having suffered through her husband's difficult death from Parkinson's Disease. Read more at: The importance of thoughtful estate planning can't be over-emphasized. Even the estate Robin Williams, which likely benefited from the expenditure of considerable resources, is not immune to the pitfalls of failing to think through all estate contingencies. Read more by clicking on the link below.

The holidays are a time for family to gather together and share in the warmth of the season. But filling up on turkey and apple pie are not the only activities in which you can engage this season. For many, the holidays also provide one of the only opportunities of the year when adult children can sit down with their parents and siblings to discuss practical matters. Chief among these are the importance of establishing a plan - and related legal documents - should something go wrong with the well-being of elderly relatives.

Read more: A living trust has advantages that a will cannot offer, so it is valuable to seriously consider acquiring or maintaining both. A living trust, or a trust set up during your life time as opposed to after your death, can be an important addition to your estate plan because it allows your estate to be settled more quickly, as assets in a trust do not have to go through a probate process. It also places someone in charge of your estate should you become incapacitated – an important consideration in the management of your investments. Read more here: Click on this link for an article about estate planning that was published on Page 12 of the Capitol Hill Village September 2014 newsletter: What happens to your Gmail  account when you die? What about your Facebook page or your Twitter account? Well, it's not clear. A few states have enacted legislation to give executors and personal representatives the power to access the digital accounts of the deceased, while most states rely merely on the privacy policies of the service providers, such as Google, or Twitter or whatever company hosts the account. Click on this link to see where your state falls with respect to this issue: The current lack of legal clarity can cause huge disruption and frustration in peoples' lives, as is evident in this story from the Columbus Dispatch: What all this means is that when doing your estate planning, it is vitally important these days to make arrangements for your digital accounts, just as you do for your financial accounts.   Estate planning is not just for the elderly, and Johnson Law Group is expert in estate planning and administration. We counsel our clients on a wide range of estate issues, including wills, trusts, special needs trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, powers of attorney, estate tax issues, among others.  Every adult should have an estate plan specifying what should happen to their property when they die; otherwise, the government will decide for him or her. While most people prefer not to think too far ahead, debilitating illness and death is a reality that is, for most of us, unplanned. It is much better, and far more helpful for family and friends, to plan ahead rather than to rely on your local government to distribute your assets according to its laws, as opposed to your needs. Johnson Law Group recommends that every adult should execute a testamentary document (either a trust or a will or both); an advance healthcare directive (“living will”); and a durable power of attorney. The cost of establishing such an estate plan is nominal, and the process is uncomplicated. By taking this step, Johnson Law Group clients are comforted by the knowledge that should the worst happen, their loved ones will be taken care of in a thoughtful and expedient manner. Call our offices to set up a free initial consultation.