Washington, D.C. Specific Information

Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, and Estate Planning

Official state laws:

Minimum age requirement to:

  • Distribute property by will: 18 (Section 18-102)
  • Which minor gets property: 18 to 21

Holographic will NOT recognized (No Section exists)

State taxes:

  • Estate tax: Equal to federal credit for state death taxes (Section 47-3701 to 47-3723)
  • State gift tax:Inheritance tax: No inheritance tax (Section 47-3701 to 47-3723)
    • No state gift tax (Section 47-3701 to 47-3723)
    • Anatomical Gift Act (Section 7-1521.04)
  • Inheritance tax: No inheritance tax (Section 47-3701 to 47-3723)

Default rules: How property is distributed if there is no will, i.e. laws of intestate succession: (Section 301-302 and 305-312)

  • No surviving spouse, but there are surviving children:
    • All of the estate goes to the surviving children split equally among them or to their children in accordance to their per stirpes share
  • Surviving spouse and
    • Children of surviving spouse:
      • Two-thirds (2/3) of your estate to your surviving spouse, and
      • The other one-third (1/3), split equally among your surviving children
      • Children not of the surviving spouse (for example your children from a previous marriage):
        • one-half (1/2) to surviving spouse, and
        • the other one-half (1/2), split equally among the surviving children of you and your spouse
        • No children and both of your parents of deceased:
          • All of your estate will pass to your surviving spouse
        • No children, but at least one of your parents survives you:
          • Three-fourths (3/4) of your estate to your surviving spouse, and
          • The other one-fourth (1/4), to your surviving parents
  • At least one parent survives you, but no surviving spouse or children:
    • All of your estate will pass to your surviving parents equally
  • No spouse, children, or parents:
    • Siblings (brothers and sisters) or to their children according to their per stirpes share. If none, then to collaterals. If none, then to your grandparents

Who must be named as a beneficiary in your will:

  • Surviving spouse must be given one-third (1/3) of your estate (Section 19-113 and 19-302)

Effects of changes in your marital status on your will:

  • You are divorced from the surviving spouse:
    • Does not revoke the will (Section 18-109)
  • You get married without changing your will that does not provide for your new spouse:
    • Does not revoke the will (Section 18-109)

Out of state executors: Must publish notices in a newspaper and appoint the probate register as agent to accept legal papers (Section 20-303 and 20-343)


  • Minimum number of witnesses required: Two (Section 18-103)
  • Are witnesses allowed to be beneficiaries?: No; if anyone takes any part of your estate, then they cannot serve as a witness to your will (Section 18-104)
  • Requirements to be a witness, witnesses must:
    • be an adult,
    • not your appointed attorney, healthcare provider, or employee of your healthcare provider,
    • not be related to you by blood, adoption, or marriage,
    • not be entitled to anything in your will, and
    • not be finically responsible for your healthcare

Property ownership (Section 42-576):

  • Common law state
  • Jointly held property is presumed to be held as tenancy in common, unless title expressly and clearly creates a joint tenancy with right of survivorship
  • If married, then property held by either party creates a tenancy by the entirety
  • Bank account deposits held jointly are payable to any survivor named in the bank account

Other types of wills:

  • Self-proving wills recognized: No, not recognized (No provision)
  • Living will: District of Columbia Declaration (Section 7-622) requires a recording in medical records and determination by two physicians of terminal condition and that death will result without using life-sustaining procedures
  • Durable Power of Attorney (Section 21-2081)
  • Power of Attorney for Health Care (Section 21-2207)