When someone says the words, “Estate Planning,” the first thing that comes to mind is someone who is extraordinarily wealthy who wills their assets to their children. In reality, every person should engage in some form of estate planning whether they have millions of dollars or mountains of debt.
Why do I need Estate Planning?
If a person dies without a will, they are considered “intestate,” which means there is not a legal contract designating what happens to that person’s property after they die. Their assets and debts then go into “probate,” literally meaning “to prove.” The probate process is time-consuming and expensive as a person’s property is first distributed to creditors and then to those who would inherit it under Maryland law. If there is a legally binding will in place, the probate process goes much faster since the will only has to be verified by the Office of the Register of Wills before being carried out. A will also help eliminate family squabbles, reduces taxes owed on any assets a person leaves behind, and gives you control over how your estate will be disposed of.
I have a will, is that enough?
In short, no. While a will is a vital part of the estate planning process, it does nothing to protect you and your family while you are still alive. There may be times in your life when you are unable to act on your own accord or make your own choices. If you are physically unable to care for yourself (e.g. if you are on life support), or if you want to make provisions for your pets and any funeral arrangements, a living will, power of attorney, and funeral planning are vital parts of the estate planning process. Each of these legally binding documents can designate a trusted friend or family member to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them for yourself.
For more information on estate planning in Maryland, contact Yoseph Orshan at Orshan Legal Group LLC today.