Bethesda Wills Lawyer
A will is a document that expresses an individual’s wishes for the disposition of their assets at death and it also includes an expression of which is the distribution of one’s remains. It often includes the nomination of a personal representative and successor of the personal representative to administer the estate. It includes some estate tax planning and can include a very foreign element for parents of minor children, like a nomination of guardianship or guardian for minor children. It can also include a trust for minors or a trust for individuals with special needs.
Contact a Bethesda wills lawyer if you want to begin writing your will. A skilled wills attorney can ensure that your interests are protected.
A will is based on local state law. Laws regarding wills are state law and not federal law, so every jurisdiction in every state is unique, including the requirement for how to properly execute a will, how a will’s language will be interpreted, and how a will and an estate will be administered.
Understanding Maryland Estate Administration often guides clients while they are creating their last will and testament to make decisions that will help reduce administrative burdens or expenses, reduce family disputes, and minimize exposure to estate taxes or various taxes in Maryland.
Who Should Have a Will
A popular misconception is that wills are for the elderly and wealthy but, anyone who is eligible should have a last will or at least consider a last will and testament. Anyone over the age of 18, of sound mind, and disposing memory can make a last will and testament in Maryland. Often individuals think that they are too young or adults think they do not have adequate assets to consider making a last will and testament.
The reality is that having a document, even if it is a simple document that can be properly executed in the state of Maryland, can alleviate delays in estate administration and reduce administrative expenses in the event something catastrophic happens. For example, law firms’ personal injury departments frequently open estates for individuals who are dealing with an injury matter in which benefit from pursuing the personal injury matter, because of the delay in opening the estate.
There are no individuals that would not benefit from a will, even if it was a very simple last will and testament. Even if someone’s assets are minimal, someone will still have to be appointed to administer the estate so making clear who is to be appointed and how the person would like those assets to be distributed can often result in less administrative expenses and less complication after death. A Bethesda wills lawyer can help an individual start the process of writing their will.
Duration and Validity
A will is valid until it has been revoked. There are several ways that a will can be revoked. It can be revoked by a subsequent document that revokes all prior wills. It can be destroyed or voided by the individual that wrote the last will and testament.
Just because a last will and testament is valid almost forever, it does not mean that the last will and testament should not be reviewed frequently. Changes in the law and an individual’s personal life could make certain provisions of the will invalid, or could lead to an unintended consequence if not changed.
Making a Will
A Bethesda wills lawyer begins the process of obtaining a will by sending out a questionnaire that is meant to gather information from clients for the initial meeting. It is also meant to help the client begin to think about some of the most important decisions that they will be making.
The meeting is a substantive meeting where the lawyer and client discuss the applicable law and the applicable taxes and review the wishes in a unique way that makes an asset holding of each client. Usually, at the end of the first meeting, the client has made enough decisions for the attorney to begin to draft documents.
Attorneys will spend a few weeks drafting documents and going back and forth about the draft with the client. Once all the documents are finalized, the client will come back for one more meeting to execute all of the documents before the required notary and witnesses.
In Bethesda and throughout the state of Maryland, a will must be witnessed by two independent witnesses. A will is not required to be notarized in Maryland, but many other local jurisdictions do require a self-proving affidavit. So, it is not uncommon for an attorney to “satisfy” the Maryland requirement for will execution and also other local jurisdictions in the event that an individual moves around the DMV area.
Modifying a Will
A will can be modified or a new will can be created to make modifications to a previous will while an individual is alive and maintains the required testamentary capacity to make those changes. Sometimes people would like to achieve this after somebody has experienced a catastrophic event, such as a stroke or an event in which the individual is still alive but can no longer communicate or does not have the capacity to make changes to their document. In those circumstances, often the individual lacks testamentary capacity and the will can no longer be modified.
Necessity of a Lawyer
A Bethesda wills lawyer can be indispensable during the process of writing your will. The terms that are involved for a last will and testament, trust, or powers of attorney are very complex. Determining what might be a good plan and what the ramification or the results of implementing that plan can often be very complicated. An estate and tax attorney can guide you throughout the process in understanding what might be a plan that will be a good fit, or making recommendations to help implement the plan.
It is not uncommon to see individuals create a last will and testament or a revocable living trust, but they have not taken the next steps to fund the trust, making the terms of a trust or the whole idea behind the trust a little bit less relevant. An attorney can help you by guiding both the preparation of the estate plan, and recording your assets to be aligned with the overall goals of the plan. Furthermore, a skillful lawyer will be able to ensure that your assets are protected and distributed in accordance with your wishes, and can alleviate the stress of writing a will. If you have any questions, get in touch with a lawyer today.