Potomac, MD Wills & Estates Attorney

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If you die without a will, the law will give your assets and property to specific people listed in the law.  If you want to take control over your assets and have them go to the people and entities you choose, you must write a will.  In doing so, you can also set up various protections to keep assets in trust, avoid taxation, and provide incomes to your loved ones.

Our attorneys can help you draft a will that covers your needs.  We can also help you modify a will you already have, advise you on tax-leveraged ways to avoid probate, and do all of this following strict legal standards so that you can rest easy knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of when you are gone.

For a free case evaluation, contact our will and estate attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today by calling (410) 694-7291.

Writing a Will in Potomac, MD

If you are okay with the default “intestate succession” process that the law lays out, you might have no use for a will.  However, this process does not give you control over who inherits your assets or what share they receive, and it usually taxes any property that flows through the courts in a process known as “probate.”  To take control over who gets the assets – and to reduce taxes they will pay – you need a will and perhaps other instruments in place.

Our will and estate lawyers can write a will that dictates who gets your assets and estate and in what shares.  The default intestacy rules usually give everything to your spouse first and your children second, but some people want to pass everything on to an unmarried partner, to their sibling to hold in trust for their children, or even to a charity they love.  To make any of these options part of your plan, you will need to write a will.

On top of choosing who gets what, a will can also put your estate into a trust.  This can help provide income to people who might not be reasonably able to accept full responsibility for an inheritance given to them as a lump sum.  For example, if you have minor children or a sibling with an intellectual disability that you want to leave money, you can put it in a trust to pay out an income to them to help with housing, everyday expenses, and medical care.

When writing a will, it is important to consider other options as well; there may be many assets that you do not want to go through your will at all.

Will Alternatives in Potomac, MD

Part of writing a good will is knowing what should and should not go through the will.  There are many assets that you can keep out of probate by setting up a different method for passing them on that prevents them from going through your will, which can help avoid taxes and disclosures.

Some assets are, by default, transferred without a will.  For example, if you and your spouse share a bank account in both of your names, it should pass to your spouse when you die, leaving them everything in the account with no fuss.  Of course, if you both pass away, then it will have to pass to your heirs in another way, which is where estate planning comes in.  You may be able to set this account to pass in a different way so that your children or other heirs can take control of the account without having it go through probate first.

Examples of Non-Probate Assets

Some common techniques to keep your assets out of probate include joint ownership, pay-on-death designations, and using a trust.  In many cases, assets can be put into trust during your lifetime, listing you as both the trustee who controls the assets in the trust and the beneficiary who receives the benefit of the assets in the trust.  You can set up trusts to name a new trustee and beneficiary automatically upon your death, potentially passing these assets to someone else, all without having to put them through your will.

Estate Planning for Non-Probate Assets

However, using any of these assets comes with the need to plan for it in advance and change the legal/ownership status of the account or other asset now while you are still alive.  For example, if you want to pass your house to your eldest child by putting them on the deed while you are still alive, it would mean that they need to approve any sales.  If instead you transfer the house to them entirely while you are still alive, it would mean that they are fully in control of any sales, and you get no legal say in the matter.  In situations like this, there might be multiple options that accomplish the same or similar outcomes that work better or worse for your given situation.

Estate Planning Considerations

The following are some of the considerations that our attorneys take into account when helping you write a will and plan how your estate should be handled:

Naming an Executor

The executor or personal representative is the person you name in your will to manage your estate and ensure that everything gets where it is supposed to go.  You can often name a family member or friend, and this person will take on many responsibilities, potentially including filing a wrongful death lawsuit if you pass away from an accident.

Who Gets What

A lot of your will will be focused on who gets your estate, with special attention given to potential backup heirs.

Contingent Heirs

Wills are designed to last the test of time and to potentially outlive the people named in your will.  If your intended heirs pass away before you or die in an accident with you, your will needs to account for these kinds of contingencies and list backup heirs.

Non-Probate Assets

Part of estate planning is deciding how best to pass on your assets, potentially having them avoid the will altogether.

Call Our Will and Estate Attorneys in Potomac, MD Today

Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras for a free case assessment with our experienced will and estate lawyers by dialing (410) 694-7291.