AN ESTATE PLAN DETERMINES

  • Who will inherit your assets.

  • Who will receive cherished items, such as jewelry, art, collections etc., 

  • Who will care for your minor children if you cannot. 

  • Instructions for your healthcare if you are unable to make decisions.

  • Who will manage your financial affairs should you become incapacitated.

  • Who will care for your pet if you cannot.

  • A roadmap for your personal representative/trustees to your financial footprint.

AN ESTATE PLAN GENERALLY INCLUDES

Financial Power of Attorney - A legal document that appoints an individual to make financial decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. If you are incapacitated, you will appointment an individual, and back up individual, who makes your financial decisions for you. It is important to note if you do not have a Financial POA document, your spouse does not have this authority without motioning the Court to appoint a guardian for you, all at your expense.  

Healthcare Power of Attorney/HIPPA Release – A legal document that appoints an individual to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. If you are incapacitated, you will appoint an individual who makes your medical decisions for you and act as a healthcare advocate for you. This person is not automatically your spouse and absent this legal document, the Court would have to appoint a guardian for you, at your expense.  

Advance Directive/Living Will – A legal document that outlines your instructions for nutrition, medicine and other life sustaining choices in the event you are in an end stage condition, terminal illness, or persistive vegetative state. This document provides a road map for loved ones in navigating difficult choices at the end of your life.

Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust and Pour Over Will - A legal document that detainees how your assets are distributed upon your death. Whether you want to ensure the legacy of a family heirloom or provide for children and grandchildren, you need a will and potentially a trust(s). Tax and expense reduction techniques should be utilized. If you have minor children, the will is where guardianship and trusts can be created to provide for your children. 

Revocable Living Trust - A revocable trust is a trust that can be altered or canceled by the grantor during their life and holds all the grantor’s assets.   In order to operate as intended, the grantor must re-title their assets in the name of trust.  At death, a revocable living trust becomes irrevocable and includes instructions where the trust’s assets are to be distributed, outright or in trust, names the trustees, and outlines the terms and conditions of any trust created at the grantor’s death.    
 
A Note About Revocable Living Trusts:  In Maryland, where probate is generally straightforward, revocable living trusts are particularly suited for people with real property in multiple jurisdictions, people who anticipate their will may be contested or for people who are in poor health and want someone else to manage their assets.  Revocable living trusts require the grantors to re-title their assets in the name of their trust, otherwise their assets will pass via their will and go through probate anyway.  It is critical you re-title yours assets into the trust or the trust won’t work.  Our estate planning discussion will include an analysis of whether a Will-based or Revocable Trust-based plan is best suited to your goals and objectives. 
 
This pamphlet provides useful information on revocable living trusts and dispels some of the claims about Living Trusts and is published by the Estate and Trusts section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association and the Register of Wills Association of Maryland. 
 

Organization of your personal financial footprint including review of beneficiary designations on bank, brokerage, retirement, and life insurance accounts is essential to streamline the process.

PROBATE, ESTATE ADMINISTRATION AND TRUST ADMINISTRATION

When suffering the loss of a loved one, seeking guidance from an experienced professional can make the process of handling their affairs less overwhelming.  Whether you have been named the personal representative, a trustee or a beneficiary, seeking advice from an attorney can alleviate a lot of questions and concerns. 
 
Probate or Estate Administration is the legal process of proving that a deceased person’s will (if they have one) is valid, assigning a personal representative, and processing an estate through the legal system.  Trust Administration is the process of implementing the instructions in the trust document after the grantor passes away.  
 
With understanding and patience, Marla Roeser, will walk you though marshaling the descendant’s assets, valuing the assets, evaluating debts or creditors, IRS filings, state legal filings, and making distributions to the intended heirs in a timely manner.