Estate Planning Myth #2

Many people believe that estate plans are only for the wealthy and well-to-do.  This is another common estate planning myth.  More than 60% of all Americans die without an estate plan, leaving their state’s intestacy laws to determine who will inherit their property.  Intestacy laws may also determine who will act as guardian of your … Read more

Estate Planning Myth #1

Many people believe (or are told) that a Revocable Living Trust can reduce estate taxes. This is a very common estate planning myth.  A Revocable Living Trust does not reduce your estate taxes.  The main purpose of a Revocable Living Trust is to avoid probate, plan for disability/ incapacity and to protect your privacy. A married … Read more

The Basics of Estate Planning – Part V

4 Documents Every Parent With Minor Children Should Have

Welcome to the last installment of my five-part series, The Basics of Estate Planning. In part I, we defined estate planning and provided examples of what could happen to you if die without an estate plan. In part II, we discussed Wills, the advantages and disadvantages of having a Will as part of your estate plan, and we also discussed what you should consider before making a Will. In part III, we discussed Trusts and the advantages and disadvantages of having a Trust as part of your estate plan. We also discussed how to determine if a Will or a Trust is right for you. In part IV, we discussed the different types of power of attorney. Review parts I-IV on my blog. This last installment will focus on guardianship planning for minor children.

If you have minor children, then you need a comprehensive guardianship plan to ensure your children will always be taken care of if something happens to you and your spouse, if you are married.

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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

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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.

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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.

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