Maryland Estate Planning Process

Sometimes the term estate planning can cause confusion. Estate planning means taking a look at all of an individual’s wishes, assets, and concerns with regards to planning for either the distribution of their assets after death or for the management of their assets in the event that they are incapacitated. We take a comprehensive approach but we do offer clients a lot of opportunities to understand the different plans that are available for them.

Before beginning the estate planning process in Maryland, contact a compassionate estate lawyer who can guide you step by step. A Maryland estate planning lawyer can take a comprehensive approach but also offer clients many opportunities to understand the different plans that are available for them.

Length of Time Estate Planning

Currently, the Maryland estate planning process is typically completed in two meetings. The length of the time spent on estate planning depends greatly on the client. To calculate time spent on estate planning one would need to consider how much the client is prepared for the meeting and how much additional thought is needed for the first estate meeting. The first meeting with a Maryland estate planning lawyer is a tentative meeting where the client’s wishes are reviewed, along with their assets, Maryland taxes, as well as the probate process in Maryland.

The initial estate meeting will also have a review of estate planning options. In many cases, estate planning clients will have made enough decisions by the end of the first meeting to begin the drafting of their estate planning documents. The client will then review their estate planning drafts.  Once all of the estate planning documents are in order, the client will come back in to sign all of the documents.

Planning in Maryland

Generally, a Maryland barred attorney will be most familiar with the specifics of Maryland probate law and Maryland taxes. Estate planning is very unique to each state because of state laws, as well as the interaction between the state law and the federal law. Because of the emphasis on the control by the state law, it is often most helpful to work with an attorney who is familiar with the Maryland law.

Considering Estate Planning

There is no bad time to begin estate planning. Many individuals mistakenly believe that they need a certain asset threshold or they need to be married or have children to begin the Maryland estate planning process. Generally, all individuals who are over the age of 18, who have assets, even if they are relatively low in value, would benefit from some type of estate planning whether that is a simple will or incapacity planning.

There are certain life triggers that will force individuals to seek out an estate planning attorney either to update their current estate plan that they have or to actually create an estate plan. Those triggers are often major life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the birth of a grandchild, a death in the family, a move into or out of a jurisdiction, a significant increase or decrease in wealth, and major changes in Maryland law.

Planning Early

Generally, estate planning needs to be completed when an individual has the requisite testamentary capacity to execute estate documents. What becomes challenging, as individuals age or they experience a catastrophic event, is they may lose the requisite capacity to complete estate planning at the same time that they would benefit from a complete estate plan. For example, it is not uncommon for a Maryland estate attorney to receive telephone calls from family members who are looking to create a power of attorney for a loved one but unfortunately, the loved one no longer has the required capacity to create a power of attorney.

Because of the loss of capacity, estate planning lawyers are sometimes less than able to use the simpler method of creating a power of attorney and instead work with a client to petition the court in Maryland for the appointment of a guardian. The earlier estate planning begins, the more frequently that planning is done, and the more familiar clients are with their estate planning documents.

The more that clients understand the necessity to plan, the better they are prepared in the event of a catastrophic event. It is also easier to complete Maryland estate planning for many clients when there is not a catastrophic event on the horizon, because they find that they have more time to marinate on the decisions that they will have to make. It is often easier for them to do so far in advance of ever actually needing their estate planning documents.