7100 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 190, Columbia, Maryland 21046

Estate Planning Attorney in Maryland

Estate Planning:

An estate plan consists of various legal documents so that if you become disabled and upon your death, your instructions regarding the administration and distribution of your assets and important decisions about your health are carried out to your precise specifications.

In short, a good estate enables you to dictate to whom your assets will be distributed and how, while at the same time reducing taxes, court costs, miscellaneous expenses and attorney’s fees as much as possible.

At a minimum, every estate plan should include a Will or Living Trust, a Power of Attorney, a Health Care Agent Appointment, a HIPAA Release, and a Living Will (sometimes called an Advanced Directive).

Will

A Will takes effect upon your death. It has no legal effect while you are alive. A Will does the following things:

  1. It dictates to whom your assets will be distributed and how.
  2. It designates who will settle your affairs and conduct the probate of your estate.
  3. It identifies your choice of a guardian of any minor or disabled children.

Without a Will, each state has laws that dictate to whom your assets will pass when you die. Such laws are called laws of intestate. Without a Will, your estate may be distributed to unintended and unfavored people.

Living Trust
A Living Trust is often used as a “will substitute.” A Living Trust is a contract that you enter into with yourself. You decide the terms of the Living Trust and you serve as its Trustee. The Living Trust says how your trust assets will be administered during any period of disability and how they will be distributed upon your death. You control all aspects of the Living Trust and are able to amend or revoke it at any time. To the extent you have transferred your non-retirement assets into your Living Trust, the need of a guardianship can be avoided if you become disabled and probate van be avoided upon your death. If a guardianship is needed, you not only lose the ability to decide how your assets will be administered (your guardian, not you, will do that), you also lose the ability to decide who will control your assets (a judge, not you, decides who your guardian will be). Guardianship and probate proceedings are expensive, time consuming, and create public records at the courthouse of your personal affairs that are subject to public view which anyone can access.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document which if properly signed, witnessed and notarized, enables your Agent to conduct business for you and sign your name. If you become disabled, a valid Power of Attorney may avoid the need of a guardianship. If a guardianship is needed, it can also inform the Court who you would prefer as your guardian. But, the Court still has the final say as to who will be appointed as your guardian.
Appointment of Health Care Agent
An Appointment of Health Care Agent enables you to decide who will make health care decisions (and potential end-of-life decisions) for you if you are unable to do so yourself. Without such a document, the law will dictate who your health care Agent will be.
HIPAA Release
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibits your health care providers from releasing your medical history and records to anyone but you in the absence of a written authorization. However, with a signed “HIPAA Release,” such medical information can be provided to those who are authorized to receive it. This is very important should you become unable to make your own health care decisions as it will enable your health care agent to make informed decisions about your health.
Living Will
A Living Will (sometimes referred to as an Advanced Directive) allows you to decide end of life decisions. Such decisions include whether you want to remain on life supporting apparatus (such as ventilators) and whether to continue being nourished by artificial means (such as feeding tubes) if you are in a terminal medical condition or permanent vegetative state. It also allows you to determine whether you want to be an organ donor. Without a Living Will, these decisions will be made by others if you are unable to do so yourself. By having a Living Will, you relieve your loved ones of the pressure and emotional cost of making such decisions for you.

Location

Main Office

7100 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 190
Columbia, Maryland 21046 Map & Directions

(301) 596-2962 fax

Other Office Locations

8235 Penn Randall Place
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772 Map & Directions

1997 Annapolis Exchange Parkway, Suite 377

Annapolis, Maryland 21401 Map & Directions

41650 Court House Drive, Suite 300

Leonardtown, Maryland 20650 Map & Directions

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