We may not want to think about the inevitable, but we should all have a plan. Having a solid estate plan means your loved ones can grieve, without having to make a lot of tough decisions. Estate planning lawyers help people select an executor and determine the best way to distribute assets, taking into consideration tax issues and other factors. Estate law varies widely from state to state, but there are some general principles that are widely applicable.
A last will and testament can be used to leave your personal property to either family, friends, organizations, charities, or anyone else. In your will, you can also name a guardian who will care for your children in the event something happens to you and your spouse or partner. You can also name an executor, who will make sure that the terms of your will are rightfully carried out.
Although you are not legally required to have a lawyer draft your will, it is important to have a lawyer at least review it, particularly in certain situations. For example, it is best to have a lawyer look at your will if you:
To draft a legally valid will in Maryland, you must sign it in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the will. It does not need to be notarized.
A commonly used tool in estate law is something called a “self-proving affidavit.” This is a document that is attached to a will that has been notarized. It certifies that the witnesses and testator properly signed the will, ensuring that the probate court will accept it.
Usually people who pass away without a will have their property distributed in accordance with state intestacy laws. In Maryland, your property is disbursed to your closest relatives. If you have no spouse or children, your property will go to your grandchildren, or your parents. Absent any of those relatives, it goes to any siblings you have, your grandparents, any living aunts and uncles, cousins, or your spouse’s relatives. If you have no living relatives, by blood or marriage, your property will go to the State of Maryland.
Estate law can be extremely complicated. There are many types of wills that work best for people in different circumstances. All wills should be put into writing, and sometimes, people supplement this with a video will. A video will can help establish the identity and the mental competency of the testator (the person devising their property).
A simple will, also called a statutory will, is often the best choice for those with relatively few assets. Not all states recognize these wills as valid.
Instead of using a will to distribute assets, many people elect to use some type of trust arrangement instead. The experienced Towson trusts lawyers at The Law Offices of Jayme L. Levy LLC can help you determine whether it is in your best asset to employ some type of trust. A testamentary trust will combine some of the features of a trust and a will.
Something called a “living trust” can save your family significant time and money because it allows your will to be distributed without having to go through probate. Like a will, you can use a living trust to devise real estate and property, and can revoke it at any time while you are living.
There is nothing like the peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved ones will be cared for after your passing. The Towson estate planning lawyers at the Law Offices of Jayme L. Levy LLC can help you draft a will, review or amend an existing will, handle the probate process, and litigate disputes. To learn more about what we can do for you, call us today at 410-512-6605 or contact us online. We advocate for clients in Baltimore County, Howard County, Baltimore, Ellicott City, and Columbia.