A will is a set of binding instructions for the distribution of your property upon your death. A will can also determine who will care for your minor children if there no longer is a surviving custodial parent for them. A Maryland resident who dies without a will is considered intestate, and his or her property will be distributed according to the "default" provisions of Maryland law, and Maryland courts will determine custody of minor children who have no surviving custodial parent.
Susan Eleff, Attorney at Law, is an estate planning lawyer with decades of experience. The lawyers with the Eleff Law Group help clients create valid wills to accomplish the following:
- Ensure that assets go to the desired recipients
- Provide for the efficient disposition of property
- Establish guardians for minor children
- List personal representatives to manage after-death affairs
- Implement tax saving measures
The Eleff Law Group has offices in Bethesda, Silver Spring and Frederick, Maryland. Susan Eleff and her team can assist you in completing a well-drafted and properly executed will that will give you peace of mind that your stated wishes will be implemented.
Practical and Personal Guidance When Drafting a Will
Not all wills are alike. Depending on the complexity of your estate and your specific priorities, you may need only a simple will and testament, or you may need a more complex will with tax saving provisions.
The lawyers with The Eleff Law Group have in-depth knowledge of Maryland's intricate estate planning and probate laws, and they will get to know you and your personal concerns in order to create a practical and comprehensive estate plan.
It is never too early to consider preparing and implementing an estate plan. A will can only be created by someone who is alive and has legal capacity. Procrastination risks the occurrence of a disability affecting capacity, which if permanent, can preclude you from ever executing an enforceable will.
Use of Disclaimers in Estate Planning
Under Maryland law, it is possible to use a disclaimer to protect your family's wealth. While it may appear counterintuitive at first, under certain circumstances, disclaiming an inheritance can result in significant long-term aggregate estate tax savings.
When a surviving spouse disclaims an inheritance, he or she refuses to accept it, either in full or in part. With a properly structured "disclaimer trust" in the deceased spouse's will, the disclaimed amount can fund a trust for the benefit of the surviving spouse, who will thereby enjoy substantially all of the benefits of the disclaimed assets, but keep those assets out of his or her own estate, thus reducing the amount subject to Maryland estate tax when the surviving spouse passes away.
A disclaimer trust can also be used to prevent the surviving spouse from diverting assets from the children or other heirs of the deceased spouse. That aspect can be especially important for "blended families" where one of the spouses brings children from a prior relationship into a marriage, or where a spouse re-marries after the death of the first spouse.
Updating a Will
Many people put a lot of thought into creating their will initially, and then check estate planning off their list of things to do, as "mission accomplished." However, a will is a document that should be periodically reviewed, due to changes in tax, trust or other laws, and to make sure that it still meets the maker's inheritance objectives. The last few years have seen significant changes in Maryland tax, trust and other laws, which could have a major impact on estate planning.
Consider having an experienced lawyer such as Susan Eleff review your current will and other estate planning documents in light of those changes, as well as to accommodate a change in financial situation, a change in state of residence, a change in family composition, or a change in family dynamics that may warrant a modification of the disposition of your estate.
Do You Need a Will? Learn More in a Free Consultation
To discuss wills or other aspects of estate planning, contact The Eleff Law Group for a free 15-minute in-person or telephone initial consultation (certain limitations may apply). Please call 800-765-2662 to get started.