Severna Park Wills & Estates Attorney

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The thought of planning for your death might be a lot to think about, but it is important to have a plan in place.  A will can explain what should happen to your property, allowing you to dictate exactly who gets your estate.  Proper estate planning can also help you avoid taxes and specify how funds and assets should be used or managed.

Our lawyers can write your will, help you plan what should happen with your estate, administer the estate for you, and protect your will from challenges.  Having a will in place is important if you want control over your assets, and having a will in place is especially vital if you have children or loved ones you want supported after your passing.

For a free evaluation of your needs, call our wills and estates attorneys at (410) 694-7291 at Rice, Murtha & Psoras.

Benefits of Having a Will in Severna Park

If you do not have a will in place, you are considered “intestate,” which literally just means “without a will.”  If you are intestate, then Md. Code, Est. & Trust Art., § 3-101 et seq. dictates who gets your assets when you die.  Under these “intestate succession” rules, your spouse and children are prioritized, then your parents (if there is no spouse or children), and then other family members in order of closeness to you.  If you want to ensure other people get your assets or you want to cut any of these parties out of your inheritance, you will need a will.

A will can give your assets to anyone you want, and it is a necessary part of overriding these intestacy rules.  For example, if you want to make sure that your spouse gets everything instead of sharing assets with your children, your will has to say so.  Similarly, if your children are all adults and you want to give everything to them and reserve a smaller portion of your estate for your spouse, you can do that with a will, too.

Wills are also needed to skip anyone in the order of priority – such as putting your siblings ahead of your parents – or including people who are not blood relatives – such as putting your partner into your will or putting your stepchildren ahead of your parents.  You can also include entities like charities or your college in your will to give them an endowment.

Wills are also necessary to leave anyone out of your succession rules.  As an example, assume you have two brothers and you want to make sure that your brother with kids gets your estate so your nieces and nephews can benefit.  Here, you can leave out the childless brother if you want to.  You can even set up your will such that if he ever does have kids, he gets a share as well.

Can You Keep Your Will Private in Severna Park, MD?

Usually, Maryland law allows you to register your will with the courts so that when you pass away, they already have an approved copy of your will.  This prevents any issues with locating your will or comparing copies and making sure that your heirs have the “real” will.  However, when you register your will, it is still private until you pass away.  For anyone else to try to get a look at your will, they will need your express written permission.  For example, your lawyer can see your will, but your spouse or child cannot unless you give them written authorization.

While it is your right to keep your will private, it might be a good idea to discuss the terms of your will with your loved ones.  If they are blindsided by the will and only find out after you pass away that they have been cut out of the will or that you left everything to one person, they might doubt that you were in your right mind when you wrote your will.  If you can manage your heirs’ expectations or keep them in the loop about what your will is supposed to say, it can reduce surprises and potentially even help avoid will challenges.

Handling Potential Challenges to Your Will in Severna Park

Writing a will often involves predicting potential challenges or problems with the will.  Issues with interpretation, mistakes, and future changes can all be potential grounds for challenges, and proper will drafting can account for these ahead of time, reducing potential problems.

For example, saying something as simple as, “I leave the entirety of my estate to my wife,” can become a problem.  If you were married to one person when you wrote the will, but later get divorced and remarried – potentially more than once – who is interpreted to be “your wife”?  Should this be your wife at the time of writing or your wife at the time of death?  If you use a name, e.g., “My wife Alice,” but you remarry before passing away, should it go to Alice or your current wife?

Some of these problems can be fixed simply by following the law about general interpretation of wills.  Others are more complex, such as when there is a mistake or outdated information in the will.

It is important to update your will after major life events to make sure that the will still applies to your situation.  It is also important to write in backup heirs and alternatives in case anyone “predeceases” you or dies in an accident alongside you.  It is also possible to plan for property to pass outside of the will, making it important to remove those bequests from your will if you have since sold the property, placed it in a trust, or otherwise done something with the assets that might conflict with the terms in your will.

If there are any deficiencies or missing bequests in your will, then the intestacy laws will take over and dispense with any remainder in the estate under those rules.  If any challenges result in the will being struck down in part or in its entirety, then intestacy rules will also take over.

Call Our Will and Estate Attorneys in Severna Park, MD Today

For help writing a will and planning what happens to your estate, call our will and estate lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today at (410) 694-7291.