Why all the secrets? Planning your estate shouldn't be some stealth operation you don't tell anyone about – especially your family. While estate planning may force you to think about the obvious, it's better to resolve any questions now and make sure you're satisfied with the plan. You have a choice of where your property goes now. If you fail to make those choices known in a written legal document, you won't have a choice if you die or become incapacitated.
You've spent your life balancing your family's budget, saving, and investing so that your family would be taken care of after your death. Don't lose that momentum by waiting too long to create a will or establish a power of attorney. Whether you're 47 or 74, if you have assets, you need a will.
Our team at Atkinson Law in Baltimore, Maryland, can help. That “dread of dead,” or the feeling that you'll bring on some bad karma by even thinking about your estate plans will evaporate the minute you meet our attorneys at Atkinson Law. With more than 15 years' experience in estate planning and will writing, we know how to tread lightly on the topic of death and focus on life. The proper planning of your will and last requests will allow you to do the same. Rather than feeling fearful, you'll feel unburdened and refreshed with a zest for life. You'll be confident that your family won't bear any hardship after your death and that your life savings will be distributed as you designate.
Wills or Last Will and Testament – A will is a must for anyone who has assets. A will makes your wishes clear about who should receive your personal property upon your death. Having a will allows YOU to choose. Creating a will and keeping it updated lets you and your heirs feel comfortable about what happens to family possessions. Maryland wills, including Baltimore and Harford County wills, must be in writing and signed by you, with the signature witnessed by two people—preferably those who are not beneficiaries of the will. Changes to the will can be made, if necessary, and Atkinson Law can also help you with that task. Ideally, your will should be updated every five years or whenever there is a change in family status or finances.
Don't know where to start? Check out the FAQ and wills template at www.registers.maryland.gov. or, call us at Atkinson Law for a consultation. We'll explain the procedures and help you to create the best estate package for you, based on your present and future assets.
Power of Attorney – You can decide who will be responsible for making health and financial decisions on your behalf, should you become unable to do so. A Power of Attorney (POA) gives someone the right to sign legal documents for you, including banking documents, and to handle your affairs. You can choose a family member, a friend, or a professional, as long it is someone you trust with your assets. There are several types of Power of Attorney that residents of Maryland, (Baltimore County and Harford County) can choose:
General or Statutory – A general or statutory POA allows the named person to make decisions on your behalf in a broad range of categories, including: financial, employment, hiring help, donations, taxes, and payments.
Special or Limited– A special or limited power of attorney gives the named person distinct parameters on involvement in your affairs for a limited purpose. It could be activities like handling an individual real estate transaction, paying your household bills, or collecting debts.
Health Care – This type of POA focuses only on your health care and decisions that are made if you are incapable of making them. Some Health Care POAs include advance directives and list your desire for health care in certain situations.
With any power of attorney document, you specify when it goes into effect. If your situation changes, and you recover from an illness or incapacity, the POA reverts back to you. Don't be afraid of it – you can revoke the POA at any time. At Atkinson Law, we can help guide you as you decide about your personal representatives. You may want to choose several different people for different areas of your life. You want to be sure these are people you trust, so that they will work to obtain maximum savings of administrative costs and death taxes (Yes, you even have to pay taxes to die). They can handle your estate according to your wishes and prevent possible family disputes.
Trusts – If you would like to establish a trust – a property interest held by someone else for the benefit of another person – Atkinson Law can help. We have extensive experience in developing trusts and making them simple to understand and execute. They are clear, concise, and to the point. We can even help you to fund the Trust, by working with experienced financial advisors.
Probate and Estate Administration – Atkinson Law's expertise in probating wills in Maryland helps you to settle a deceased person's estate quickly and efficiently. If you're an executor of a will and need guidance on how to execute the terms of the will, Atkinson Law can help. From valuing the assets to paying inheritance taxes, we can take it from any point in the process.
For all of your family estate planning needs, contact Atkinson Law in Baltimore, Maryland. Keep your secrets in the family! The Atkinson Law family.