Very basic “estate planning” in Maryland and the District of Columbia involves preparing a Last Will and Testament. More complex estate planning involves complex legal instruments like Trusts and careful attention to how beneficiaries are listed on things like life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Other aspects of estate planning involve legal documents and instructions for that period of time just prior to death. These documents include advance directives/living wills, health care powers of attorney and financial powers of attorney. Financial powers of attorney can also be very important for the first few weeks after passing allowing for immediate cash, credit and expense necessities (like getting the bills paid). Accomplishing your post-death goals requires “planning” – in advance – because it takes time to put all of the “pieces” in their proper places. If you think you need a Maryland/DC Estate Plan, call for a no-risk, no-obligation consultation with the top-rated DC and Maryland Estate Planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. Call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. Call us if you have been searching for the “best Estate Planning attorneys in Maryland” or the “best Estate Planning lawyers in DC.”
One main purpose of estate planning – either basic or complex – is to allow you to choose how your assets are distributed after death. If you want assets to be donated to a charitable organization, you will need Maryland/DC estate planning. Or, if you want to disinherit a descendent, you will need Maryland/DC estate planning. Likewise, if you want a friend to have your assets (instead of family members) or if you want to create a Trust for education expenses for your grandchildren, you will need Maryland/DC estate planning. As noted, a Will is the key legal document for post-death instructions, but estate planning also involves attention to how assets are titled and to who is listed as beneficiaries to certain instruments like life insurance policies. Assets that are co-owned – like a bank account – will pass to the other co-owner upon your death.
Another purpose of estate planning is lawful tax avoidance. At one time, when there was a sizable “death tax,” this was essential. This may become crucial again as the death tax may be reinstated. The main methods of lawful tax avoidance were the creation of irrevocable trusts and the careful use of gifts made before death.
Along the same lines, another purpose of estate planning is avoidance of probate proceedings which has the advantage of reducing the costs and fees associated with probate litigation. In brief, as the percentage of your estate that passes through trusts and other mechanisms increases, the cost of probate proceedings decreases. Further, assets which are not probated avoid being made public in probate documents filed with the court. This protects the privacy of your family.
Finally, estate planning involves consideration of what happens if you are mentally incapacitated during the last few weeks before death and also covers the first few weeks post-death. Financial powers of attorney are crucial to ensure ongoing access to financial assets.
Maryland and D.C. Trust and Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, contact the Maryland and D.C. trust and estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD and Washington, DC.