You might wonder if you need a will. If you are young, single, and own no assets, you might not. However, most people in Silver Spring do not fall under that small category. If you own any assets, have a spouse, or small children, you should have a will. If you have an older will, but your circumstances have changed, you should consider amending it.
Our Silver Spring, MD wills and estates attorney has been assisting people with their estate planning and questions for over twenty years. Whether you have a small child and want to provide for them or have remarried and have additional step-children, our office could help you prepare to provide for your family and loved ones after you die. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation.
What Happens When You Pass Without a Will in Silver Spring, MD?
When you die without a will, you die “intestate.” This means you have left no instructions for your family regarding your property’s distribution or expressed any enforceable wishes on your funeral or burial. If you die without a will, your family and loved ones do not get to decide what happens with your property. Maryland has specific intestate laws that govern the distribution of a person’s estate should they die without a will.
Maryland law determines not only who gets your property, but it will also determine who gets your minor children if your spouse did not survive you. In most cases, a Silver Spring resident’s wishes will not be the same as what the law dictates. For example, if you were in a close relationship without being married, your partner might not be entitled to any of your property. Likewise, if you were married, your spouse might have to divide your assets with your surviving parents.
By meeting with our Silver Spring wills and estates attorney, you can avoid the problems and issues that would impact your family if you died without a will or any thought to your estate planning. With a last will and testament, you can ensure that your expressed wishes are known and honored.
Benefits of a Will or Trust in Silver Spring, MD
In addition to expressing your wishes for what happens to your property after death, a will or trust will provide for your family and, hopefully, prevent fighting among your heirs. Our Silver Spring wills and estates attorney will review your assets and your ultimate goals with you to tailor your estate plan to your specific needs. Everyone’s situation is unique, and there are many estate planning tools available to achieve each person’s wishes. With over twenty years of experience, our office has come across just about every eventuality.
Depending on your circumstances, a revocable trust might be more beneficial. A revocable trust allows you to put your property in a trust to be used for the benefit of your heirs in case of your death. Through the trust, you would appoint a trustee that would administer your estate after you have died. One of the advantages of a trust is the ability to provide detailed instructions to the trustee. For instance, you could set aside property or funds that are only to be used for the college education of your children. Your trustee would have a fiduciary duty to ensure that the listed property is only used for that purpose.
Additionally, a trust allows your estate to avoid Maryland probate. By avoiding probate, your property gets into the possession of your heirs faster. A trust also keeps your estate and its distribution out of the public record.
The Importance of an Experienced Silver Spring Trust and Estates Lawyer
There are numerous software packages and websites that provide boiler-plate wills for a small fee. However, can you be sure that any software will generate a valid Maryland will? If you are not familiar with Maryland estate law or if the program is older, you have no guarantee that you are executing an enforceable will. In many cases, leaving an invalid or incomplete will is worse than leaving no will at all.
Additionally, these packages do are not tailored to your unique circumstances. Our Silver Spring wills and estates attorney will take the time to understand your situation, often asking questions you never anticipated. We will also work to develop an estate plan that minimizes your loved ones’ tax obligations after your death.
Other Important Estate Planning Documents in Silver Spring, MD
In addition to your will or revocable trust, there are two other important documents you should consider when thinking about estate planning.
First is the advance medical directive. This document will appoint a representative to carry out your medical treatment decisions if you are not capable of making the decisions yourself. This document could include detailed instructions on the type of treatment you deem permissible. For instance, you might not want to be left on a ventilator or other extreme life-preserving measures. By executing an advance medical directive, you can ensure your end-of-life decisions are known and left in the hands of someone you trust.
The second document is a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney grants your appointed agent legal authority to handle your financial affairs in the unfortunate event you are disabled or incapacitated. Without a power of attorney, your loved ones will face many legal challenges when attempting to manage your financial or business affairs. In some situations, your family might be forced to petition the court for guardianship.
Call Our Silver Spring, MD Wills and Estates Attorney for a Free Consultation
It is never too early to begin planning for your eventual demise. By taking the time to sit with our Silver Spring, MD wills and estates attorney, you can give yourself peace of mind knowing that you have provided for your family and loved ones. To begin planning to provide for your family, contact our Maryland estate planning attorney at Rice, Murtha & Psoras. Call (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free, confidential appointment.