WILL ATTORNEYS SERVING
BALTIMORE TO WHITE MARSH
Maryland Estate Planning Lawyers Focus on Will Creation
Baltimore Law Firm Helps Clients Ensure That Their Wishes Are Honored Upon Death
The only way to ensure that your wishes regarding your estate will be honored after you die is to create a will. At Atkinson Law, we have years of experience with creating and revising wills – we take pride in helping clients meet their estate planning needs.
What is a Will?
A will is a written legal document that specifies a person’s wishes about what happens to their estate and other matters, such as the care of minor children, after they die. The maker of the will (testator) will designate a personal representative, sometimes known as an executor, to carry out the instructions in the will. The person who inherits from the estate is known as a beneficiary. A will is valid until it is revoked, either by being destroyed or being replaced by a new will.
A will is not necessary to distribute property that passes to another by contract or under law, such as jointly owned property and life insurance proceeds or pensions that go directly to a named beneficiary. Even if you have left your property to someone in your will, you retain the right to do whatever you choose with it during your lifetime. The provisions in a will only refer to property you own upon your death. Once your will is made, you should review it every year and, if necessary, adjust the way you want your affairs handled after your death.
Executing a Will in Maryland
Maryland law requires that the maker of a will be at least 18 years old and of sound mind – understand what a will is, the property it relates to, and the relationship between themselves and those included in their will. To be valid, a will must be in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed by at least two individuals in the presence of the testator. Witnesses do not have to have knowledge of what is in the will; instead, they are confirming that the testator is the one who signed the will.
What Happens if I Die Without a Will?
If someone dies without a will in Maryland, the money and property they own at the time of death will be distributed according to the intestate succession laws of the state, which may or may not reflect the wishes of the deceased person. Intestate laws typically divide all property between several close relatives according to a set formula and often exclude more distant relatives, friends, and charities.
For those married with no children, these laws require that your spouse share your property with your parents and offer little protection for unmarried couples. They also do not deal with who will care for minor children if both parents die or a surviving parent is unavailable – instead, the courts and social service agencies will appoint a guardian to raise the children.
Contact a Maryland Law Firm Experienced with Wills
You’ve worked hard during your lifetime and understandably want your property to be distributed according to your wishes. We can help. Contact Atkinson Law online or call 410-882-9595 (Baltimore office) or 443-384-0013 (Bel Air Office) to schedule your initial consultation today.