Estate planning allows you to ensure that your wishes are honored in terms of your medical and financial care if you become incapacitated and that your property passes to whom you want upon your death. While thinking about the end of one’s life may be something one does not want to think about, it can ensure that your loved ones avoid unnecessary tax and attorney fees as well as legal confusion and red tape. A Maryland probate attorney can put together a comprehensive estate plan. Below is an overview of potential components in many estate plans that are developed by Maryland estate planning attorneys.
· Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney is a crucial part of most estate plans. This document allows you to appoint an “attorney in fact,” who can act in your place in managing your financial affairs if you should become incapacitated. You have broad discretion to determine the scope of the financial duties and responsibilities of your attorney in fact. Without a durable power of attorney, no one can act on your behalf unless a court appoints a guardian or conservator. This may lead to expensive and time consuming probate proceeding and result in someone other than the person you would choose making decisions about your financial affairs
· Medical Directive: A medical directive under Maryland estate planning law allows you to pick an agent to make medical decisions regarding treatment on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Under Maryland estate planning law, you can also designate what types of extraordinary medical measures you wish to have employed by medical providers.
· Will: A will allows you to direct the disposition of your property upon your death. A clear expression of your desires as to the disposition of your property upon your death can help avoid disputes by family members after your death and avoid running up unnecessary legal costs. A will allows you to name the person who you wish to administer your estate and distribute it according to your wishes. If you die without a will, the court will appoint someone to do so, which may not be the person you would have selected. A will is also the mechanism by which you can designate the person you wish to care for your children if both you and the other parent are deceased.
· Trust: A trust allows a person (or an institution, such as a bank or law firm) called a “trustee” to hold title to the property of another. Trusts name one set of beneficiaries during one’s life and another after one’s death. Your Maryland probate attorney will often use a trust because it has a number of unique advantages. One of the biggest advantages is that a trust does not need to go through probate court, which can result in substantial savings in time and money for your heirs. Trusts can also have tax advantages particularly if the estate is below a certain level.
A Maryland estate planning and probate attorney can help you develop an appropriate estate plan to meet your needs. If you are looking for an estate planning and probate attorney, click here.