In Maryland, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone determines what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you really want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for really implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these goals.
In addition to decisions regarding the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For instance, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your preference on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such choices for you, if you are unable.
A reliable estate planner in Maryland may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Additionally, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in Maryland
Estate plans in Maryland almost always have these elements:
Will: If you've determined who you want to leave your property and money to after you die, you should make these wishes official, by writing a will. When writing a will, it's always a good idea to have the assistance of an attorney, since many problems can come up which might make the will much more challenging to implement, or they might even void it entirely. Common problems include ambiguities in the terms of the will (a term which is not precisely written, so it can be interpreted differently by reasonable people), as well as failure to follow the obligated formalities.
Power of Attorney: Granting someone "power of attorney" gives them the permission to make your decisions for you if it becomes impossible for you to do so. This incapacity can arise due to illness, injury, or mental incapacity.
Funeral Arrangements: Obviously, deciding what you want done with your mortal remains is a very personal decision. Nonetheless, once you have made this decision, you should put it in writing, in some place other than your will. You should also make your wishes known to your family members. This is because wills are usually not read until days or weeks after the testator dies, by which time it may be too late to carry out their wishes on this matter.
Do I Need a Maryland Estate Planning Attorney?
Because these decisions are so critical in Maryland, it's almost never a bad idea to seek the counsel of an accomplished wills, trusts, and estates attorney.
Interesting Facts About Maryland
Maryland is situated in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. The state is named after Queen Henrietta Maria of France. Its nicknames are the Chesapeake Bay State, the Free State, and the Line State. Occasionally it is called "America in Miniature" due to its diverse range of geographical features. Maryland's capital is Annapolis, which is also where the U.S. Naval Academy is located.
Maryland's court system is often referenced for its one-of-a-kind characteristics. For example, the highest court is not named "the Supreme Court", but rather, the Maryland Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals is also unique because all the judges wear red robes with white-colored British style collars, instead of the more common black robes. This is believed to be carried over from British legal tradition, where judges often wore red in association with royal functions.
Maryland is considered by many to be one of the most environmentally conscious states in the nation. It consistently ranks well in terms of energy, toxic waste, and emissions. This is often reflected in the state's laws and zoning regulations. Maryland is part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is formed by all Northeastern U.S. states in efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions.
Lawyers in Maryland help clients by filing lawsuits, providing legal advice, and reviewing legal documents. Maryland lawyers are available to assist clients in all kinds of legal fields, and many specialize in specific areas of law. Attorneys in Maryland can help make the legal process more understandable.