We help individuals interested in protecting their personal assets with will, probate process and other estate planning processes.
Deciding what happens to your family and property after you die might not seem like a pleasant way to spend your time. Creating an estate plan that accurately accounts for your assets, property, and wishes can offer you significant peace of mind, though. The more effort you put into your estate plan now, the greater the chances of a smooth distribution of your assets after you have passed on.
State laws regarding property disposition are complicated, so working with an experienced attorney is crucial. An Upper Marlboro estate planning lawyer can ensure your estate plan reflects your wishes and minimizes your heirs’ exposure to tax liability and creditors.
Estate Planning Keeps Control in Your Hands
Everyone should realize that without a comprehensive estate plan in place during the asset distribution process, their property will likely be subject to the state’s intestacy laws. The term “intestate” refers to when someone passes away without a will.
For example, if a married person with three minor children dies intestate, their surviving spouse will inherit half the property and the three children will inherit the rest. If a person leaves behind a spouse and parents but no children, the spouse will receive $15,000 plus half of the remaining property and the parents will get the rest. Creating a comprehensive estate plan allows someone to avoid this distribution and remain in control over who inherits their valuable assets.
A wide variety of estate planning tools are available, and a capable Upper Marlboro attorney can explain which ones are best suited to each purpose. Our legal team will take the time to understand a person’s goals and concerns and construct a plan that meets their needs.
Estate Plans Make the Transition As Smooth as Possible
Families and loved ones have a lot to cope with when someone dies, whether the death was sudden or expected. After a death, the assets in an estate are distributed via the probate process, which can be time-consuming and complicated. When a family does not have an established estate plan, the stress and confusion of a death can become amplified.
An estate planning attorney can facilitate the probate process by helping people take their assets out of their estate before they die and arrange that those assets pass directly to their designated beneficiaries after death. Some examples of assets that may not have to go through probate include:
Assets in a living trust
Joint bank accounts
Property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship
Real estate with a transfer on death deed
Retirement accounts and life insurance policies with named beneficiaries
Since probate can be lengthy, keeping as much property as possible out of the estate means the probate process does not delay the beneficiaries’ receipt of the assets.
Families with significant assets or specific needs could form one or more trusts to distribute their property. Trusts can protect assets from creditors and reduce the inheritance tax burden. In addition, trusts can be essential to financially protecting a spouse, child, or other loved one who requires care due to mental or physical challenges.
Estate Planning Offers Protection Before Your Death
People can also use estate planning to formalize their wishes regarding medical treatment or managing their property should they become incapacitated. For example, Maryland Health Code § 5-602 allows a person to create an estate planning document known as an advance directive, which describes the healthcare interventions that a person consents to and under what circumstances. An advance directive can name someone as the person’s healthcare agent to make decisions about treatment if they are incapacitated.
Similarly, someone could protect their wishes and authority by drafting a durable power of attorney, which designates someone to manage a person’s affairs and property should they become incapacitated. A power of attorney typically grants the holder some powers while also establishing limits on certain actions. A knowledgeable lawyer in the Largo, MD area can help draft a power of attorney or advance directive that aligns with a person’s wishes.
Call an Upper Marlboro Estate Planning Lawyer About Your Options
You worked hard to earn and keep your property; after your death, it should go to the people you designate as your heirs. This might not happen if you do not start looking ahead. Drafting an estate plan now is the best way to direct where your assets go after you pass.
A well-crafted estate plan requires specific knowledge and skills, so working with an experienced attorney is essential. Contact an Upper Marlboro estate planning lawyer today to begin planning for the future.
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