Estates Trusts and Probate Law Community Newsletter Winter 2017-18

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Happy New Year Estates, Trusts and Probate Law (ETPL) Community! We thank you for your patience as we transition from a Section to a Community. As you may have noticed, the Bar has made a tremendous effort to maintain the status quo regarding our operations and has supported the Steering Committee's efforts to provide the same quality programming and support our members have come to expect. Should you have any comments regarding the transition or otherwise, please contact the Steering Committee.

Upcoming Programs
Mark your calendar for our remaining luncheon programs (each of which is available in-person or by webinar) including:

  • February 8, 2018, Experts in Probate Cases, with Judge Fisher
  • February 22, 2018, Trust Modification, with Rachel Burke and Cara Koss
  • March 28, 2018, Heckerling/Year in Review, with Howard Zaritsky
  • April 12, 2018, TOPA and Foreclosures in Probate, with Ashley Wiggins
  • May 3, 2018, Life Insurance and Estate Planning, with Mark Woodward
  • May 8, 2018, Tax and Other Implications of Trustee Selection (speakers TBD)
  • June 7, 2018 D.C., MD, and VA Year End Update (speakers TBD)

If you are interested in learning more about the practice of estates, trusts, and probate law, do not miss our March 8, 2018 Lunch with a Lawyer program. You will have the opportunity to have an informal discussion with experienced trusts and estates attorneys about the practice, professional development, leadership opportunities and much more. The program will be held at the Bar from noon until 1:00 pm and lunch will be provided. The program is free to Community members.

Please register in advance for these programs.

Save the date, Wednesday, May 9, 2018, for our annual Judicial Reception. As always, we look forward to the opportunity to connect with our Community during this highly anticipated event. Additional details coming soon. 

Legislative Update
As of January 1, 2018, the D.C. estate tax exemption increased to match the federal estate tax exemption. As a result of the 2017 Tax Act (signed into law on December 22, 2017), which doubled the amount of the federal estate tax exemption, each D.C. resident has a D.C. estate tax exemption of $11,180,000 for 2018. While the federal estate tax exemption is portable between spouses, the D.C. estate tax exemption is not.

On June 1, 2017, Councilmember Charles Allen, Chairperson of the D.C. Council's Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, held a public hearing on Bill 22-0012, the "Revision of Guardianship of Minors and Creation of Supplemental Needs Trusts Act of 2017"; Bill 22-0049, the "Uniform Power of Attorney Amendment Act of 2017"; Bill 22-0169, the "Electronic Signature Authorization Act of 2017"; Bill 22-0198, the "Uniform Partition of Heirs' Property Act of 2017"; and Bill 22-0199, the "Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act of 2017". Several Community members participated in the hearing to provide comments on the proposed legislation. The Legislation Subcommittee of the ETPL Community has requested a meeting with the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety regarding the status of the foregoing bills. The Council's office is currently engaged in annual budget hearings and plans to revisit the proposed legislation and to be available for a meeting with the Legislation Subcommittee in late spring. The Steering Committee will continue to follow up on the bills and will provide updated information when available.

The District of Columbia Death with Dignity Act allows an adult DC resident who is terminally ill (i.e., medically confirmed to have less than six months to live) to request medication from his or her physician to voluntarily end his or her life. To learn more about the law, visit the DC Department of Health website. Community members may want to be prepared to discuss this law with inquiring clients, but note that there is nothing one needs to include in his or her last will and testament, advance health care directive or other estate planning documents in order to participate in the program.

Pro Bono Opportunities
Reward yourself by helping others in need. Our Community is always in search of volunteers to participate in our pro bono activities, including the weekly Probate Resource Center (for Probate Administration) and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center's monthly Saturday Advice & Referral Clinic. The Probate Resource Center provides assistance to unrepresented parties who need assistance in handling estate administration matters and needs volunteer attorneys of all levels of experience. The Advice & Referral Clinic is held the second Saturday of each month. Our Community provides a volunteer mentor (with at least 3 - 5 years of experience practicing D.C. estates and trusts law) who gives guidance on estate and trust matters to other attorney volunteers who meet with walk-in clients. For information on volunteering at the Probate Resource Center or the Advice & Referral Clinic, visit the D.C. Bar website:

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