Maryland Wills & Trusts Attorneys
Wills and trusts are two of the most important legal documents you can create for your estate. Without a valid will in Maryland, a person is said to have died “intestate,” meaning the court will decide how their assets get distributed through the probate process.
Probate is a costly and time-consuming process. It can be further complicated if you fail to leave clear instructions for the distribution and management of your estate. To avoid this, you can ensure your assets are handled according to your instructions through the proper execution of a will or trust. Many people choose to have both of these items.
At the Baddour Law Firm, we are a trusted and established estate planning law firm in Southern Maryland. Our firm has built a solid reputation in the community for its honesty, knowledge, and care in all estate planning matters. If you’re ready to protect your legacy, please contact us today, to schedule a free consultation.
What is a Will?
The foundation of any estate plan is a Last Will and Testament. A will is vital to ensuring that your wishes are followed with regard to your assets because it specifies who will receive your property upon your death.
In Maryland, a valid will must be in writing, signed, and attested and signed by two credible witnesses. Maryland generally does not recognize handwritten wills. If the court finds that your will isn’t valid, your assets will be distributed according to the state’s intestate laws, which may not align with your wishes.
Why You Need a Will
Even if you have a trust, there are still important reasons to have a will. Not every asset you own is likely to be in the name of your trust. A will acts as a “catch-all” to distribute any additional assets listed in your name to beneficiaries according to your wishes. Other important functions of a will include:
- Name a guardian you know and trust to care for your minor children.
- Create a testamentary trust in your will to leave property or money to minors.
- Name a personal representative to serve as the administrator or executor of your estate.
Your financial situation, family makeup, and tax laws might change over time. For these documents to remain valid, relevant, and enforceable, they should be updated or revised regularly.
Using a Trust for Estate Planning
If you are confused about the best way to distribute your assets after you pass away, we recommend that you consider a trust. A trust is an essential estate planning tool that offers several significant benefits:
One of the most significant benefits of having a trust is that the assets you place into it will avoid probate. Unfortunately, the probate process can be an ordeal for your loved one and drain some of your assets. But, with a trust, those assets can usually transfer to your beneficiaries quickly.
In some cases, a trust can provide tax benefits that your loved ones may not receive through the probate process. If you use an irrevocable trust, any contributions made within the trust may be exempt from estate taxes. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can advise you on these issues.
When all of your assets go through probate, everything becomes part of the public record. Therefore, anyone wanting to know how much your estate was worth or how it was distributed can easily find out this information. But trusts don’t go through probate, so the information is only known to your beneficiaries.
Control Over Assets
A trust also gives you greater control over how your assets get distributed. You may not wish to leave a large lump sum to a young adult or minor. When you establish a trust, you create specific instructions for asset distribution, such as tying a percentage distribution to age or milestones, like college graduation.
Depending on the type of trust you create, you can benefit from an increased level of flexibility. For example, revocable trusts allow you to make changes over your lifetime as your desires and needs change.
Elder Care Planning
No one likes to think about what might happen when they get a bit older. But illness and incapacity happen to many of us. It’s better if you put your wishes in writing than hope someone will take the right actions years down the road. In your trust, you can designate who will become the trustee should you become incapacitated so you can avoid guardianship. You can also designate that funds from your trust be used to pay for your care.
Different Types of Trusts to Achieve Your Goals
A trust is a valuable estate planning tool that allows you to leave your legacy as you wish and help your beneficiaries avoid the legal obstacles and headaches associated with probate. There are several different types of trusts our firm helps clients establish and administer:
- Living Trust — A living trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to decide how your assets are managed and distributed both during your lifetime and after you die. This is the most common type of trust.
- Special Needs Trust — Special needs trusts are designed to benefit a child, elderly parent, friend, or another disabled person so they don’t interfere with any available government assistance.
- Charitable Trusts — A charitable trust can be established to provide assets to a designated charity upon your passing.
These are only a few of the most common types of trusts. Your estate planning attorney can structure a plan that will meet your goals and secure your legacy.
Contact an Experienced South Maryland Estate Planning Attorney
Whether you want to create a Last Will and Testament, a revocable trust, or some other type of estate planning solution, find out how we can help. At the Baddour Law Firm in Southern Maryland, we understand the importance of clarifying your wishes. We take the time to understand your situation and goals before recommending specific solutions. Call us at (301) 494-2108 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Dunkirk and St. Mary’s for your convenience.
All information displayed on the the Baddour Law Firm website is informational and shall not be deemed as legal advice. If you’re currently dealing with an individual legal situation, you’re invited to contact us through email or by phone. Until an attorney-client relationship has been established, we urge that you avoid sharing any confidential information. Furthermore, no representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.