Maryland Trusts and Estates Lawyer
No matter the size of your estate or what your estate planning goals may be, an experienced trust and estates attorney can help you with your estate-planning needs and give you peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of even after you have passed.
Choosing the right estate planning instruments is crucial to the success of your estate-planning process, and that is why it is so important to have a skilled Maryland estates and trust attorney by your side.
Estate Planning Goals
Among the many reasons why it is important to creating a comprehensive trust and estate plan, is to minimize someone’s estate exposure to taxes, avoiding questions surrounding inadvertent heirs, and to provide capable management of the trust and estate.
Other common goals for clients seeking help with estate planning include:
- Providing for their loved one’s futures
- Preparing for incapacity
- Designate a power of attorney
- Creating a practical estate plan that is cost efficient
Wills in Maryland
A will is a document setting forth a person’s wishes for how their trust and estate should be handled and distributed following their death. Wills can be structured in a number of ways and can include many different provisions, such as charitable contributions, child guardianship or business ownership succession. Whatever the trust and estate terms of a will though, they only take effect after the “testator’s” death.
A revocable trust is sometimes called a living trust because the terms can be charged during the grantor’s life and the trust is considered active, even when the grantor has not yet died.
Maryland Estate Planning Tools
The most frequently used trust and estate planning tools used in Maryland are wills, trusts, and revocable or living trusts. Regardless of which trust and estate tool is chosen, an experienced Maryland trusts and estates lawyer can look out for how the tax implications, creditor claims, and disgruntled family challenges may affect the trust and estate.
Individuals interesting in planning for their trust and estate have worked hard to provide for their family, to establish their business, and to build financial security. It is important to protect those assets through effective business and estate planning to ensure that an individual’s trust and the estate are disbursed according to the client’s wishes.
Power of Attorney
One of the typical ways in which a trust and estates attorney assists a client is by helping them decide who to designate as power of attorney. Power of attorney means that an individual selects a relative or friend who will act as a decision-maker regarding the client’s trust and estate if they are unable to do so themselves.
This means that the designated person will have authority to make decisions concerning finances, business affairs, medical status, and several other important areas of life in the event the client cannot do so. A trust and estates lawyer can create the language used in the power of attorney and explain the scope of its use for their client and often even help their client figure out who would be a good match to be a power of attorney.
Maryland Probate Lawyer
A Maryland probate lawyer’s primary responsibility is giving assistance to Personal Representatives during the entire probate process. An attorney will need to provide them with information about their duties and responsibilities. Additionally, a Maryland probate attorney can also provide guidance with other parts of the probate process, some of these additional tasks being the valuing of assets, and the creation of an estate plan. En Español.
Opening an Estate
To begin the process of opening a regular estate in Maryland, an individual needs to file the original last will and testament. Even before you begin the process, it is good to know where your last will and testament is so that you or your personal representative can use it to open your estate pleadings. Speak with an attorney to learn how the process works in more detail.
In Maryland, there are many different types of probates available for those seeking to create an estate. Additionally, the tax system on estates in Maryland is somewhat unique, and having a Maryland probate attorney will be useful when filing estate tax returns. They can carefully explain the different tax considerations that must be confronted following a person’s death.
When someone is interested in opening a regular estate, the documents they will need depend on the estate type, assets, and the estate’s beneficiaries. A document that is often used in these instances is a petition for probate, which details information about the nominated personal representative, including their address.
When a nominated Personal Representative files a petition for probate, they will need to include a completed Notice of Appointment, Notice to Creditors, and Notice to Heirs. These notices are required to have been published and featured in a local newspaper for at least three consecutive weeks before the case can proceed.
Additionally, information in the last will and testament details information on whether a Personal Representative need apply for a full bond or whether they can apply for a nominal bond. Applying for a nominal bond will be beneficial to most people because when compared to the full bond, a nominal bond is much cheaper.
During the initial pleadings, there will also be a List of Interested Persons made available. The List will include the names and addresses of the decedent’s heirs, Personal Representatives, and if applicable, legatees. Should the nominated Personal Representative live outside the state of Maryland, they may be required to file an additional document — an appointment of a resident agent. This additional document would give someone who resides in the state of Maryland the ability to accept documents and mailings from the court on behalf of the nominated Personal Representative.
Finally, on behalf of the case itself, waivers of bond or consents of appointment may be necessary. These waives of bond or consent also depend on the last will and testament, the nominated Personal Representative and other factors. Make sure to consult a Maryland probate attorney if you would like to learn more about the required documents.
After the Initial Filing
After someone is officially designated a decedent’s Personal Representative, they will receive a letter of administration from the court. This letter gives the Personal Representative permission to take on the duties of a Personal Representative and allows them to make decisions on behalf of the estate.
Following the Personal Representative’s official appointment, they are then tasked with marshaling all assets and valuing them at the date of the decedent’s death. Essentially, they are given the duty of collecting information about all of the decedent’s assets at the time of their death and then reporting the information to the Orphans’ Court in Maryland. This process can get complicated, and having a Maryland probate lawyer to provide guidance is crucial.
Generally speaking, there is an order of priority that allows for the appointment of a personal representative. Typically, someone’s last will and testament names who would serve as the initial personal representative, and if that person is unavailable or unwilling to serve, it often names a successor personal representative.
In the event that no one is able to serve or when there is no last will and testament, Maryland will provide an order of priority for who may serve. For example, if you have passed away with a spouse, then your spouse may have priority to serve over other heirs to your estate or beneficiaries to your estate. A Maryland probate lawyer will guide you through the accounting and inventory process as well.
There are some limitations to who can serve as a personal representative. A personal representative must be over the age of 18. They must not have also committed a serious crime and they must have the required capacity. A personal representative must also be willing and able to serve.
Consult a Probate Lawyer for Help Administering Estates
A person who is appointed or wants to become the personal representative for a decedent’s estate should contact our experienced probate attorneys in Maryland to learn more. Someone who wants to avoid the probate process should also discuss their options with a lawyer. Speaking with an experienced MD probate lawyer can clear up some of the complicated questions one may have about the process. Because the entire process can be somewhat confusing for a person that has never been in a similar situation, an educated professional can help explain important terms and standards, like what living trusts are. A lawyer with experience will be able to help an individual through the potentially lengthy process and provide insight into how inheritance tax affects the probate process and explain the modifications that can be made to an estate.
If you want to make sure your family is provided for and that your assets are properly distributed after your death, make sure to speak with a lawyer to create a last will and testament. The document will establish your desires for your assets even after your death. Dying without a will could further complicate the estate administration process and create additional stress for an already grieving family.
Probate for Same-Sex Spouses in Maryland
Since same sex marriage is recognized in Maryland, spouses regardless of their gender, are treated the same through the probate process. Spouses, in general, typically have rights or statutory elections that arise from Maryland probate law and are applicable to all spouses.
The change in the law that recognizes the same sex marriage in every state in the country is a very recent development. In general, there may be issues that are still in the grey area for the courts because they are cases of first impression. Generally, all spouses are treated the same under the laws of intestacy, and share in the statutory rights and elections available.
Every family has a unique family dynamic. Married couples that have children through adoption, or with the assistance of a gestational carrier, may wish to review their estate plan carefully to ensure that the child inherits from both parents. For example, if only one spouse adopted a child, and the non-adopting spouse died without a last will and testament, the adopted child may not inherit from the non-adopting spouse.
Generally, spouses in probate are given statutory allowances and have certain statutory rights. Regardless of the sex or gender of the spouse, those rights are still attributed to the spouse because of their relationship as a married couple.
We work with families of all dynamics and compositions. We enjoy creating unique and tailored estate plans to address the issues that plague each family. And we work to meet each family’s specific needs.
Contacting a Maryland Trusts and Estates Lawyer
To find out how to preserve and protect your assets by creating a last will and testament or planning for your trust and estate, you need a Maryland trusts and estates lawyer who can explain your options and secure your legacy. A Maryland estate attorney can establish a trust to avoid probate, maintain the privacy of your estate, protect assets from creditors, and ensure that your designated beneficiaries get the inheritance you intend for them.
Protect your wealth, your assets, and your legacies by developing a plan for your trust and estate. Speak with a trusts and estates lawyer in Bethesda, Maryland who can help you make wise and secure decisions about your assets. If you have any questions regarding the legal definition of phrases you might encounter in the process, review our glossary for assistance.
By: Scott G.
Title: Knowledgeable and caring professional
Kerri is a knowledgeable and caring professional. She has a unique ability to take complex legal issues and distill them into straightforward, understandable language. Her legal skills combine sophistication with practicality - a much-appreciated combination in Trust and Estate planning.