Maryland Estate Planning
Estate planning can be a complex legal topic but can be easily understood as a form of emergency preparedness. Just as emergency preparedness is all about minimizing a disaster's impact with a calculated plan of action, estate planning is about minimizing the financial or legal impact of your death or disability on your family.
There are plenty of tools to help you with estate planning in Maryland. Whether you live in Silver Spring, Frederick or Baltimore, you have access to legal estate planning resources like wills, living trusts, advance directives and more. Using LawInfo's Maryland estate planning articles, you can learn about the legal ins and outs of securing your family's future and connect with a qualified local attorney.
A Last Will and Testament is a common method used by Maryland residents to make their estate distribution wishes known. If you want a certain person or organization to receive an asset from your estate when you die, you can include that wish in your will. You can also assign a guardian to your children under 18 years of age if you don't have a surviving spouse when you die.
Maryland will only recognize typewritten wills signed by the testator (the person for whom the will is written) and two witnesses. Holographic (handwritten) and nuncupative (oral) wills are not legally recognized. Maryland makes an exception on holographic wills for active members of the U.S. armed services.
Maryland Intestacy Laws
If any part of your estate isn't included in your will or a trust when you die, it is distributed among your family by Maryland's intestate succession laws. When this happens, any wishes you or your family may have had about the intestate assets are forfeit and the law decides who gets what assets.
If you die intestate, your assets will be distributed by living succession to your:
- Aunts and uncles (your grandparents' children)
- Great-grandparents' children
If you have no living inheritors, your intestate assets will escheat to one of two Maryland government organizations. Your estate will escheat to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene if you received long-term care benefits from the Maryland Medical Assistance Program. If you didn't receive such benefits, your estate escheats to your county's board of education for use by public schools.
Maryland Advance Directives
While many Maryland residents' concerns with estate planning are focused on what happens to their property and family after death, another important part of estate planning is concerned with healthcare. There may come a time when you become incapacitated or incompetent to making decisions from an accident or failing health.
You can ensure that your healthcare needs are addressed when you're no longer able to make decisions yourself using Maryland's Advance Directive. This is a legal document in which you can select a health care agent and list your healthcare wishes (sometimes called a "living will").
By giving a health care agent the durable power of attorney, you are permitting them to make healthcare decisions when you are unable to. Since the Advance Directive combines the power of attorney with your living will, you can specify the types of healthcare treatments you want or don't want your agent to permit.
Speak to an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified estate planning lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local estate planning attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.
Additional Estate Planning Articles
- What Are Advance Directives?
- What Is A Health Care Agent?
- Who Can I Choose To Be My Health Care Agent?
- Do I Have To Choose A Health Care Agent?
- What Is The Difference Between A Living Will And An Advance Directive?
- What Is An End-Stage Condition?
- Do I Have To Use Any Particular Form?
- Do I Need Witnesses?
- Who Can Be A Witness?
- How Long Does An Advance Directive Remain In Effect?
- Can I Change My Mind?
- What If I Already Have A Living Will Or Durable Power Of Attorney For Health Care? Do I Still Need To Prepare An Advance Directive?
- Can I Be Denied Health Care If I Dont Have An Advance Directive?
- Who Can I Select As My Health Care Agent?
- Do The Forms Need To Be Notarized?
- Do Any Of These Documents Deal With Financial Matters?
- When Using These Forms To Make A Decision, How Do I Show The Choices That I Have Made?
- Should You Fill Out Both The Living Will And Advance Directive Form?
- Are These Forms Valid In Another State?
- To Whom Should I Give Copies Of My Advance Directive?
- If I Have An Advance Directive, Do I Also Need An Emergency Medical Services Palliative Care/Do-No-Resuscitate Order?
- Does The Ems Palliative Care/Dnr Order Have To Be In A Particular Form?
- Can I Use An Advance Directive To Make An Organ Donation?
- Where Can I Go For Additional Information?