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An estate plan consists of legal documents that direct the disposition of your personal property and assets at the time of your death. By creating an estate plan, you can rest assured that your wishes regarding your property will be carried out.
Henderson Law, LLC provides comprehensive estate planning, probate and trust administration services. In developing a plan that best suits your objectives, there are a variety of factors to consider. Our attorneys understand that every client’s personal, family, and economic goals are unique. Henderson Law, LLC prides itself on providing you the necessary time and attention to clearly identify your goals and discuss available options to achieve those objectives.
From individuals with modest means to the very wealthy, Henderson Law, LLC’s team can work with you to craft a plan that preserves your assets and makes the most of them in the future. Our attorneys will meet with you to offer an analysis of the appropriate estate plan, whether that involves the preparation of a relatively simple Will, power of attorney, and advanced medical directive, or more complex plans. With the proper estate plan an individual can provide for his or her health care and property management needs in the event of incapacity, control the disposition of his or her assets upon death, facilitate estate and trust administration, and minimize transfer taxes.
Below are some frequently asked questions that may assist you as you consider undertaking the estate planning process.
A Will is a written document that controls the disposition of the decedent’s probate property. In addition to outlining the decedent’s wishes regarding their property, a Will can also provide for the appointment of a guardian for minor children, direct that property be managed in a trust for beneficiaries with prolonged distribution, and determine who pays estate taxes and administration expenses. The person preparing and executing the Will is called a testator or testatrix.
Probate property is real and personal property titled in a person’s sole name. Non-probate property is not controlled by a person’s Will and generally includes life insurance, retirement accounts and other property owned by a trust. Please consult an attorney to determine whether specific property is considered probate property that would be controlled by your Will.
A trust is a legal agreement through which a trustee holds legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. The trust instrument appoints a trustee and provides instructions for operation of the trust. The terms settlor, grantor, and creator are used to indicate the person creating the trust. Trusts are created either in a Will (testamentary) or during lifetime (inter vivos).
A testamentary trust is created by the testator in his Will, and is a tool used to manage property after his death. The testamentary trust is funded with probate assets in accordance with the Will. Since a testamentary trust comes into existence at the time of the testator’s death, the trust is irrevocable and cannot be changed.
An inter vivos trust is created during a person’s life in a document separate from the Will. It is funded by re-titling assets during the settlor’s life. This type of trust can be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable inter vivos trust allows the settlor to maintain control over the trust, and amend, revoke or terminate the trust at any time. An irrevocable inter vivos trust cannot be changed or amended by the settlor. Any property placed into an irrevocable inter vivos trust can only be distributed by the trustee in accordance with the trust provisions.
An advanced medical directive is a document that identifies your wishes regarding healthcare decisions in the event you are unable to make your own decisions. A declarant is the person who prepares the advance medical directive, and the agent is the designated person or people authorized to make health care decisions on the declarant’s behalf. Through the advanced medical directive, the declarant appoints a health care agent and states his or her wishes regarding withholding of and/or withdrawing of life-sustaining procedures in instances where the declarant is in a terminal condition, persistent vegetative state, or end-stage condition. This document is helpful as it assists your loved ones in making your health care decisions during difficult and stressful times.
A power of attorney is a document that creates a principal-agent relationship. Through a power of attorney, the principal delegates certain authority to the agent to exercise financial and non-financial power on behalf of the principal. This is an inexpensive way for a principal to delegate financial powers to an agent to allow the agent to act on principal’s behalf. A power of attorney can be limited to a particular transaction or period of time, or can grant general authority to the agent . A power of attorney can be helpful to avoid the need for guardianship which is both costly and time consuming. You should carefully consider the person you elect as your agent, as granting a power of attorney to another person allows that person to make financial decisions on your behalf.
A personal representative is an appointed individual with fiduciary powers under the Will that administers the disposition of your estate. The personal representative’s fiduciary duties may be outlined in the Will, or are otherwise governed by Maryland law. A personal representatives has several major responsibilities including: administering your estate, distributing assets to your beneficiaries, paying estate debts or expenses, filing the necessary tax returns, and paying the appropriate federal and state taxes. Your personal representative should be a trusted individual, such as a family member, friend, or professional adviser. In making your decision, be sure to choose someone that is willing to serve.
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