Trusts & Estates

Estate planning is an important part of everyone's life. The old phrase "To decide Not to decide is to decide" is particularly relevant here. If you do not make a Last Will and Testament then upon your death your property will go to those people designated by the State of Maryland in the proportion dictated by the State of Maryland. So not preparing a Will does not mean nothing will happen to your property, it only means you will have no say in where your property goes. Here are a few issues you need to consider:

Advance Directives

Everyone thinks they know what is a Living Will. The problem is that until you are certified to be incapable of responding for yourself AND you are in a terminable condition or a permanent vegetative state a Living Will can not take effect. Unless you are dying anyway, your Living Will is useless.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is more inclusive than a Living Will. It appoints someone to make decisions for you when you can not speak for yourself. It does not require that you be dying. So if you have an accident and you are unconscious, the Doctors do not have to wait for you to regain consciousness before they do a hip replacement.

Trusts are a special area. Are you leaving your estate to your child? You have spent a life time amassing your estate. Do you want it all handed over to your child on their 18th or even their 21st birthday? If not you you a trust for the child until they reach the age YOU think they will handle to money properly. If you want money available for someone but do not want to eliminate their ability to receive government assistance. Then you need to establish a discretionary Trust. Do you have someone who is handicapped or have mental limitation? Then you may consider a Special Needs Trust.

Probate is the process of administering your Estate. This requires handling the process in the Orphans Court and/or before the Register of Wills. As soon as you die an appraisal of all of your property needs to be made before anything is removed. A Petition for Probate and a list of Interested Parties has to be filed with the Register of Wills. A bond is required regardless of what is waived in the Will. There are lots of steps that must be taken and they need to be done on time and in the right sequence.

Power of Attorneys are authorization for someone else to act on your behalf. Whether you want someone to deposit your checks and pay your bills when you can't, or handle your other business affairs for you. There can be a Limited Power of Attorney to handle a specific item or a General Power of attorney to do any thing and every thing you could do. You can have a regular Power of Attorney that takes effect when you sign it and stops when you revoke it. You can have it remain effective even if you become disabled - which we call a Durable Power of Attorney.

Please contact us for more information about how our Maryland trusts & estates attorneys can help your or your trust & estate law needs. We can be reached at 410 267 5944 or via the web through our online form.

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?Bell, Ragland & Gauges, P.A.
?7 King Charles Place
?Annapolis, Maryland 21401

?Fax Number: 410 269 5999
?Annapolis Number: 410 267 5944
?Baltimore Number: 410 269 6899