Washington D.C.: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant local law for The District of Columbia. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution

February 2, 2021

Washington D.C. is the seat of federal power, but if you call the District of Columbia home, there are a lot of local laws you need to know about. We’ve compiled a full list of forms and documents you can download to start preparing for any health, legal, or estate planning issues in the future.

Organize your most important documents with ease you follow all of the necessary laws and procedures for Washington D.C.

Essential Medical State Laws & Forms for Washington D.C.

How to Get Your Medical Records in Washington D.C.

According to HIPAA, healthcare providers in Washington D.C. must keep medical records for at least 3 years from the date of last treatment.

Under D.C. law, healthcare facilities also have a responsibility to give you a copy of your medical records if you ask for them in writing within a “reasonable” period of time — usually within 30 days.

Learn more about your medical record rights

Washington D.C. Advance Directive Forms

An advance directive is a general term for a series of legal documents that outline your preferences for medical care if you become incapacitated. These documents typically include:

  • Living Will. Your preferences for treatments in various medical situations
  • Durable Power of Attorney. Durable power of attorney assigns someone the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf
  • DNR Order. This document only takes effect if life-saving measures are needed. It has no power to enact assisted suicide instructions

You can download all of these healthcare directives here.

Washington D.C Organ Donor Registries

If you are 18 years of age, you can register to become an organ donor in Washington D.C. at Donate Life. You can also sign-up online via the DMV.

Essential Washington D.C Legal & Estate Planning Documents

How to Set Up a Will in Washington D.C.

A last will and testament is a legal document that expresses an individual's wishes at the time of their death for the distribution of their properties. It calls the executor of the individual, who is labelled a personal representative in Washington, D.C. It also names the personal representative's successors.

The testator must sign the last will for it to be valid in the District of Columbia when he or she has the requisite testamentary power. Furthermore, an attestation provision signed by two independent witnesses should also be included (must be over eighteen years).

Learn how to set up a will and what to include in your will

Washington D.C. Trust Laws

District of Columbia has specific trust laws that require trusts to be established in a particular way to be valid. Beneficiaries of a trust may be family, friends, charities, and even pets. 

Learn more about the biggest differences between a will and a trust

Washington D.C. Probate & Tax Laws

Probate is the legal process of transferring property upon a person's death, while estate tax laws are the tax on the right to distribute a person's assets upon their death.

Washington D.C. doesn’t make use of the Uniform Probate Code, which simplifies the process of probate, so having a living trust to escape the complicated probate process of D.C. might be a good idea for you as the probate process in DC can last between 12-18 months.

For small estates (under $40,000), the District of Columbia has a streamlined probate process that is significantly quicker and easier.

Washington D.C. Estate and Inheritance Tax Laws & Rates

New legislation endorsing the "Estate Tax Adjustment Amendment Act of 2020" was signed in August 2020 by the mayor of Washington D.C. This act limits the number of properties of a deceased excluded from D.C. estate tax to $4 million per citizen beginning in 2021.

D.C. has abolished its inheritance tax. However, if D.C. residents own property in other jurisdictions with inheritance tax, such as Maryland, they could be liable for an inheritance tax of 10% that extends to all assets allocated to non-exempt beneficiaries.

Digital Estate Planning Laws: Washington D.C

Digital estate planning helps you to secure your digitally recorded online accounts, digital currencies, images and other resources. The Digital Estate Act of Washington, D.C., helps you develop and manage your digital estate plan and grant permission to an executor to access your digital properties. 

How to Get a Death Certificate in Washington D.C.

The District of Columbia limits access to death records that are not in the public record to preserve the identification and privacy of District of Columbia residents. Cousins, nephews/nieces, aunts/uncles, relatives, neighbors, and others without a particular interest are NOT permitted to order the death certificate of a person, according to Washington D.C law.

Download a certified Washington D.C. death certificate application form. You may also apply for a certified death certificate in person at the Office of Vital Records, located at 99 North Capitol Street, NE Washington, DC. 

How to Organize Your Most Important Documents

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