elderly couple signing their Wills

Wills and Estate Planning

Last Will and Testament in Maryland and DC

Wills and Estate Planning

Last Will and Testament in Maryland and DC

At its most basic terms, a Will is a written document that shares with your loved ones how your assets should get distributed in the event of your death. These documents typically require your signature and are witnessed to be considered valid under state law. Many individuals rely on these essential documents to appoint guardianship of their minor children. The flexible nature of this estate planning tool is also popular since one can revoke or amend it at any time during your life so long as you are competent when doing so.

Why Every DC and Maryland Resident Should Consider a Will

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to possess significant assets to justify drawing up a Will to manage your estate. The reality is that this document is necessary to help make the DC or Maryland probate process go as smoothly as possible for your surviving family members. Without one, all of your untitled assets are subject to state intestacy laws which could mean family members you never intended to receive your property could end up with most of it. 
 
Below are just a few of many reasons that you should consider speaking with one of our estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl about creating a will:
 
  • Funeral and burial wishes
  • Limitations on transferring your assets
  • Distribution of any personal property and assets you leave behind
  • Determining how a special needs family member or child will continue to receive care
  • Transferring title of your home or other real property
  • Charitable giving wishes

Can a Will Be Challenged?

State law provides for challenging a Will, but the individual disputing it will need to present evidence supporting a good cause for their action. Family members who are unhappy with how you want your estate distributed cannot challenge your Will because they disagree with your wishes.
 
Contestation usually involves one or more of the following: 
 
  • There is evidence that your Will does not meet state-mandated requirements to be valid.
  • If you were mentally incapacitated when creating or amending your Will, family members could challenge based on the belief you did not understand your decisions’ consequences.
  • A family member exerted undue influence on you and coerced you into drafting or updating the Will to primarily benefit them.
  • You created a second Will that is newer than the version your loved ones knew about, and you forgot to destroy the old one. 
 
To avoid family conflict, it is critical to sit down and discuss any updates or decisions to revoke your Will with a knowledgeable probate attorney. They can advise you on the impact of your choices regarding it and how to avoid confusion from causing contestations after you pass away. 

Why You May Want to Change or Revoke Your Will

There are countless reasons to justify having a Will, but you should also be aware of why you may need to amend or revoke it all together and create a new version instead. The most common reason to change an already valid Will is because of significant life events that impact how your estate gets distributed in the event of your death. Failing to keep it up-to-date and relevant with your current life circumstances can lead to the probate judge verifying its validity to decide it is not. This scenario means a drawn-out and costly process for your surviving family members. 
 
Below are a handful of reasons to consider redrafting or amending your current Will:
 
  • Your end-of-life wishes have changed
  • You had a baby
  • Your children are now adults
  • You got married, divorced, or remarried
  • Your family is blended
  • Your spouse has died
  • You recently received a significant amount of inheritance or assets
 
State law makes it simple to revoke or amend your current Will, but ensuring that you retrieve any copies you distributed to a trusted friend or family member is essential. Our highly trained estate planning attorneys can discuss with you the best approach to changing or revoking your Will and ensure your new version addresses all of your latest circumstances in life.

DC and Maryland Families Trust The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl

With over 13 years of providing individuals and families throughout Maryland with estate planning services, our attorneys have the experience and knowledge you need to create a Will that meets your unique needs. Your wishes deserve to be heard out and give your loved ones the guidance they need to handle your affairs effectively when you die.

We at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl bring you a compassionate and personalized estate planning experience and are available to answer your questions regarding Wills and Trusts at any time. Give us a call today at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280, or reach out online through our contact page to set up a consultation.

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