How To Plan for Incapacity or Disability

One very important part of estate planning that is often overlooked is Incapacity or Disability Planning.  Most people view estate planning as planning for what happens after you die.  However, what would happen if you became mentally incapacitated? To take care of yourself and to maintain control of your financial affairs during a period of … Read more

How will my estate be distributed if I die without a Will in Maryland?

According to the Maryland Register of Wills website, if you die without a Will (intestate), your property will be distributed to your surviving relatives based on Maryland state law.

If you are survived by:

  1. Spouse and your minor children – spouse receives one-half, children share remaining one-half
  2. Spouse and your children (all adult) – spouse receives $15,000 plus one-half of remaining estate-children divide balance (the interest of a predeceased child passes to the children or grandchildren of that child)
  3. Your children only – children (does not include step-children) divide entire estate (the interest of a predeceased child passes to the children or grandchildren of that child)
  4. Spouse and your parents – spouse receives $15,000 plus one-half of remaining estate-both parents divide balance or surviving parent takes balance

Read moreHow will my estate be distributed if I die without a Will in Maryland?

What does probate cost?

Probate costs vary from state to state and may include the following fees/costs:  fees to appraise the value of your property; fees for your Personal Representative; estate administration costs, which can be high; court costs; insurance costs for a Surety Bond; and legal and accounting fees.  Total probate costs can range from 3% – 7% (or … Read more

What is probate?

What is probate? Probate is the process by which legal title to property is transferred from the deceased person’s estate to his/her beneficiaries.  The probate process involves the following: proving that the deceased person’s Will is valid; hearing any objections to the Will; identifying and listing the deceased person’s property; appraising the property; paying any … Read more

The Basics of Estate Planning – Part IV

In Parts I through III, we discussed estate planning and the importance of having an estate plan as well as two important estate planning tools, Wills and Trusts.  This issue will focus on Powers of Attorney (POA) and the different types of POAs. 

What is a Power of Attorney?

Estate planning is more than determining who will get your money and property after you die. Estate planning also means deciding who will manage your financial and legal affairs if you ever become incapacitated.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you give another person legal authority to act for you if you are unable to do so yourself.  The person who acts on your behalf is your “agent.”   Your agent does not have to be an attorney, but should be someone you trust.

Read moreThe Basics of Estate Planning – Part IV

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing A Guardian

familyWhen you have minor children, you should always name temporary (short-term) and permanent (long-term) guardians.

A temporary or short-term guardian is someone (or a couple) who will immediately be there for your children if anything happens to you. For example, if you are in a car accident, your temporary guardian will care for your children until you are able to do so. Your temporary guardian should be someone who lives nearby, within 20 minutes or so.

Read more4 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing A Guardian

The Basics of Estate Planning – Part III

In Part II, we discussed Wills and the advantages and disadvantages of having a Will. This issue will focus on the second of four estate planning tools – a Trust, and the advantages and disadvantages of having a Trust as part of your estate plan.

What is a Trust?

A Trust, generally, is a legal entity that can hold title to property. There are three parties to a Trust agreement: the Trustmaker who creates the Trust, the Beneficiary who receives the benefit of the property held in the Trust, and the Trustee who manages the Trust. The property that is transferred to and held by the Trust becomes the Trust principal. If you create a Trust within your Will, it is called a Testamentary Trust. If you create a Trust while you are alive, it is called an inter vivos or Living Trust.

While you are alive, you usually will receive all the income of the Trust and as much of the principal as you request. Upon your death, the Trust assets are distributed to your Beneficiaries in accordance with your directions contained in the Trust agreement, or it can continue for specified purposes for a period of time.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Trust

Read moreThe Basics of Estate Planning – Part III