Why Everyone Needs an Estate Plan

Estate planning

The primary reason that everyone needs an estate plan is that if you fail to create a plan, the State will create one for you. The State legislature does not know anything about your family dynamics and the things that you value, so why leave such important decisions to them? If you are a parent, you should be the person deciding who will take care of your children if something happens to you? You should also be the person to decide who gets your assets after you are gone and to decide when and how they should be distributed?

Without a will, state laws of “intestate succession” kick in. In Maryland*, the following distributions would apply if you died without a will:

  • If survived by spouse and parents:
    – ½ of estate, plus $15,000 to spouse
    – Balance to parents
  • If survived by spouse and children:
    – ½ of estate to spouse; ½ to children
  • If survived by spouse and adult children:
    – ½ of estate, plus $15,000 to spouse
    – ½ of estate to children (not including step- children)
  • If no living heirs or step-children:
    – Estate goes to the Board of Education

If the intestate laws do not precisely reflect your wishes, a will and/or a revocable living trust is necessary.

*See MD Code Ann., Estates and Trusts §§ 3–101 et seq. (2003) for a complete description of intestate distributions.

Another reason that everyone needs an estate plan is that a well planned estate is a valuable gift to your loved ones at a time when they will be least able to make important decisions. If you have ever had to suffer through the loss of a loved one, this is all too true for you. Your family should be able to focus on honoring your memory rather than figuring out how to pay bills when the bank will no longer allow access to accounts, or deciding who gets what assets.

A well planned estate also has the following benefits:

  • Designate guardian(s) for your children
  • Minimize time and complication of probate
  • Potential to reduce taxes and fees
  • Avoid court appointed guardianship
  • Express your wishes regarding life support, etc.
  • You decide the distribution of your property, rather than the government

Adams Law Office, LLC is a suburban Maryland and Washington, DC metropolitan law firm assisting clients with the development of a plan for the distribution of their property after death through individualized advice and preparation of applicable documents, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance healthcare directives. Call 301-805-5892 for a free consultation

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