Estate Planning involves the drafting of the appropriate legal documents to provide for the distribution of property upon a person’s death as well as to express the type of medical care a person will receive in their final days.
Wills and Trusts
Every parent with a minor child needs a Will. Without a Will, the surviving spouse may receive only half of the decedent’s estate. Without a Will and surviving parent, the Court will decide who will raise the decedent’s minor children. Without a Will and testamentary Trust, children will receive their entire inheritance when they reach the age of 18.
Stewart A. Sutton has drafted hundreds of Wills. Most married couples need only a simple Will, which provides that the entire estate is distributed to the surviving spouse and, if there is no surviving spouse, then the entire estate is distributed to the children in equal shares.
A simple Will also contains two other critical provisions. The testator appoints a guardian to raise the minor children, if there is no surviving parent. A simple Will includes a testamentary trust, which provides that the children’s inheritance will be held in trust for their education and healthcare until they reach a certain age, usually 24 or 25.
Living Wills or Advanced Directive
A Living Wills or Advanced Directive allows you to: (a) appoint a healthcare agent to make medical decisions when you are no longer capable of making informed decisions regarding your healthcare and (b) express the type of medical care you will receive when you have either a terminal condition or when you are in a persistent vegetative state with no reasonable expectation of recovery.
Power of Attorney
A durable Power of Attorney allows a person to appoint an agent to act on his or her behalf. An agent is typically appointed to manage someone’s financial affairs, because the person anticipates that he or she will soon become incapacitated. A power of attorney expires upon the person’s death.
A limited Power of Attorney is used when a person will not be present to execute important documents. If a seller of a home cannot attend a closing because he or she will be out of town, the seller can appoint an agent to sign the closing documents on his or her behalf.
In Maryland, the probate process is relatively quick and inexpensive. If the decedent’s home does not need to be sold, the Estate can be opened and closed in a few months. The fees for the Estate’s attorney is set by statute. For an Estate with $100,000 in assets, the probate fee is only $300 and attorney’s fees will be $4,680.