We have so much to worry about on a daily basis that often we are simply too busy to think beyond our own lifespan. However, if you don’t make proper estate planning arrangements now, you risk leaving it up to the courts to decide what to do with your hard-earned assets. An estate plan can be drafted at any age, even if you don’t yet have significant wealth to give away. If you find the thought of estate planning confusing or overwhelming, start with these simple steps:
1. Find a Good Maryland Estate Planning Attorney
An estate plan is a set of documents that communicates your will, wishes and intentions in regard to your material possessions, personal values, childcare and upbringing, and other aspects of your life. Your plan should be kept up to date; unless you are getting your estate plan created at an advanced age, it’s rare that your first plan will be your last. Over the years, your circumstances and wishes may change, and your estate plan will need to be amended to reflect that. Also, the law may have changed since you last did some planning. It is important to consult an experienced and reliable estate planning attorney to help you manage and adapt your estate plan over the years.
You want to choose someone who can guide you toward estate planning solutions that meet your needs, especially if you have no idea where to start. At DK Rus Law, we can help you evaluate your current situation and develop a solid estate plan that will benefit the people and causes important to you.
2. Create a Will or a Trust
A Will is a basic estate planning document that most people should have. Creating a Will is the simplest thing that you can do to control what happens to your assets when you die. However, if you have significant assets or want to have even more control over their distribution, a Trust may be a better solution for you. Assets placed in a Trust can be released to the beneficiaries under specific circumstances, such as upon reaching a certain age, getting married, graduating from college, etc. Certain types of Trusts can also be used to support your disabled loved ones without disqualifying them from governmental benefits, such as Medicaid or Social Security. Talk to your Maryland estate planning attorney to determine whether a Will, a Trust or both are necessary in your specific situation.
3. Write a Durable Power of Attorney
When thinking about the future, consider that death, although inevitable, is not the only circumstance for which you need to plan. If you become disabled or incapacitated as a result of an accident, disease or injury, who will handle your personal affairs? You may wish to consider granting a Power of Attorney to someone you trust, so that they may continue paying your bills and managing your assets.
You should also consider an advance medical directive (also called a “Living Will”), which is a power of attorney for your healthcare decisions. In this document you determine the types of treatment you would or would not like to receive, as well as who can make crucial medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
What Happens if I don’t Have All of These Documents?
If you fail to take adequate estate planning measures, the decisions about your health and wealth will be left to a court-appointed guardian. That individual may not know you, your beliefs or your wishes. You have also lost the opportunity to determine who gets your assets and when (including who gets your personal items with financial or sentimental value), and the opportunity to reduce or eliminate estate taxes and probate costs. And remember, youth is not a guarantee of excellent health, nor protection against a disability or injury—a car accident, illness or other tragic event can occur at any age. The time to make a plan is before you need the plan.
If you wish to discuss how we can ensure that your wishes and legacy carry on, please contact DK Rus Law.