Maryland and Washington, DC Estate Planning

What is Estate Planning?

At the most basic level, estate planning involves meeting with an experienced attorney, going over your assets and liabilities and making sure that your assets are transferred to your family and organizations of your choosing in accordance with your wishes.

While many people think of a last will and testament when thinking of estate planning, that is only one tool that can be used to protect your family wealth. Your estate planning attorney can also assist you with the creation of trusts to protect your assets as well as the creation of advanced directives that can make things much easier for your family members should you become incapacitated from an accident or terminal illness.

Why do you need an estate plan?

Many people do not want to think about death and that often results in putting off the drafting of a will, advanced directives, living wills, and other necessary estate planning documents. While there is nothing wrong with feeling uneasy about the process, as your Maryland estate planning attorney can explain, by choosing not to deal with these difficult issues, you may end up passing on the stress to your loved ones and that can result in emotional and financial trouble that could have been avoided with proper planning.

The following are some common estate planning tools with which your attorney can assist:

  • Last Will and Testament: A will is an instrument that directs how you want to transfer your property though the probate process from your estate to your heirs or beneficiaries. While a will is often necessary, it is not a complete solution for most estates and is often not the most effective way to transfer your assets to your loved ones.

  • Trust: A trust is legal vehicle in which you can place your property for the benefit of the beneficiaries. This can be done upon your death through what is known as a testamentary trust, or it can be during your life in what is known as an intervivos trust (living trust). In any trust, you must designate a trustee.  You can serve as your own trustee in some cases through what is known as a self-settled trust, or you can designate a person or even a company as a trustee. You should speak with an experienced Washington, DC estate planning attorney about which option may be best for your specific case.

  • Advanced Directives: Many people are familiar with a living will. In Maryland and Washington, DC, a living will is technically called an Advanced Directive. With this document, you can direct who will make healthcare decisions should you suffer a terminal illness or become incapacitated for some other reason. You can also direct what decisions they can or can’t make should this occur. This often deals with the choice of whether doctors should use life-sustaining measures such as artificial respiration, artificial nutrition and hydration. There is no wrong decision as this is a personal choice, but if you do not create an advanced directive, your family may not know what to do should this occur and that can result in guilt, frustration, unease, and in the worst cases, a full-fledged fight in court between family members.

  • Durable Powers of Attorney – Many people have heard of a Power of Attorney (POA). This document can give a loved one the power to make healthcare decisions and financial decisions in the event you become incapacitated.

At the Gross Law Firm, LLC we have handled many different types of estate planning matters. This includes the creation of wills, trusts, advanced directives, as well as several complex probate and real property litigation in cases where the decedent did not have a proper estate plan. In certain cases the deceased had died without a will (intestate). In other cases, the decedent tried to create their own will using an online self-help service and the document was determined not be valid upon death. These are all situations that can be avoided with a complete estate plan.

If you are need of a new estate plan or simply want to update your existing estate plan, contact us today for a complete and confidential consultation at (301) 388-5434.

Schedule an Appointment