Death and taxes: the two absolutes in life. Estate planning is a term used to describe the act of planning for both. From the drafting of Wills, to the naming of guardians for minor children, to the creation of trusts to protect assets from estate and inheritance taxes, the estate planning attorneys of the Southern Maryland law firm of Davis & Palumbo, LLC can help. We help clients understand their choices. We describe the options in plain language so that there is no confusion. Contact us at 410-535-1780.
A will is the document that controls the disposition of your assets upon your death. In your will, you will name a person to be appointed as personal representative upon your death. The personal representative (or executor, in some states) is responsible for filing the necessary documents with the Register of Wills to probate your estate, and see that your assets are distributed according to the terms of the will. In addition to directing how and to whom your assets will be distributed upon your death, in your will you can also name the persons to act as guardians for your minor children, establish trusts for minor children and name who will serve as trustees. You can even provide specific funeral and burial directions. Our Southern Maryland Estate Planning Attorneys will explain your options to you and assist you in making what can sometimes be very difficult choices.
Disability Planning Through Powers of Attorney and Advanced Directives.
Death is not the only event to be planned for. As our life expectancy increases, planning for future disability or incapacity becomes even more important. Through a durable power of attorney, you can name someone who will act for you in financial matters immediately or upon your disability or incapacity. You can give your attorney in fact whatever powers you desire in your power of attorney, including the power to buy and sell real estate on your behalf, give gifts, file taxes, etc.
Whereas a durable power of attorney is used to name someone to act for you with regard to financial matters, an advanced directive is utilized to name someone as your Health Care Agent to act for you in making health care decisions. Advanced directives in Maryland have become increasingly important in determining the care and treatment to be provided to individuals in the end stages of life who lack the capacity to make decisions or communicate their wishes to their health care provider. Advanced directives may contain express directions on the types of medication to be administered, whether a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order is followed, and whether you wish to participate as an Organ Donor. The estate planning attorneys at Davis & Palumbo, LLC can explain all of your options to you.
Our Southern Maryland estate planning attorneys will also work with you to preserve your assets for your heirs upon your death. At death, the value of the decedent’s assets and property, including life insurance proceeds, will determine whether Maryland estate taxes and federal estate taxes are owed. In Maryland, any estates with taxable assets of over one million dollars are subject to Maryland estate tax. Further, the federal estate tax exemption amounts are constantly changing. With federal estate tax rates ranging from 45% to 55%, it is critical that you have an estate plan in place that will minimize the effect that these estate taxes may have. Our attorneys are familiar with the options available to preserve your assets upon your death including the use of marital trusts, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, life insurance trusts and family limited partnerships. We can also help you preserve assets for the care of special needs children through the use of Special Needs Trusts.
Beneficiaries and titles
Titling of assets and naming of beneficiaries are a large part of estate planning. Ownership of property and naming of beneficiaries must be consistent with the estate plan you have put in place. When we counsel you on your estate plan, we will perform a comprehensive review of how your property and assets are titled. The titling of assets can determine whether the asset passes automatically to a co-owner or whether it becomes part of the estate or part of a trust. Similarly, it is critical that you have named the proper beneficiary on your accounts. Many people know that it is important to do this with life insurance policies. However, it is essential to review 401Ks, IRAs, pensions and other accounts as well. You want to make certain that the person who you intend to benefit actually does receive the proceeds of such accounts.
For experienced and skilled estate planning, contact an attorney at Davis & Palumbo, LLC. Call us at 410-535-1780 to start the process. You will feel better afterward knowing that you have taken care of your children and heirs.
Power of Attorney
Probate is the process of administering the estate of a deceased person. During the probate process, the assets of the decedent are identified, creditors may submit claims against the estate, a determination as to the amount of any inheritance and estate taxes is made, and ultimately, the net assets of the decedent are distributed to the heirs or legatees. In Maryland, the probate process starts by submitting the will of a person who has died to the probate court, which is called the Orphan’s Court in Maryland. If a person dies without a will, that person is said to have died intestate. The estate of an intestate person must also be probated. The Register of Wills, in conjunction with the Orphans’ Court, oversees the administration of estates. Our lawyers act for an estate’s personal representative, helping them shepherd a decedent’s estate through the probate process.
Years of experience advising and acting as personal representatives
If you have been named as the personal representative, or executor, of a decedent’s estate, our Southern Maryland attorneys can assist. While some wills and estates are straightforward and are easily probated, others are complicated and require extensive probate litigation. In either case, an experienced lawyer can make a difference. Contact Davis & Palumbo, LLC, for assistance with any estate. Call us at 410-535-1780.
Having knowledgeable legal counsel during probate can make the difference between a smooth process and one that develops problems at every turn. Our law firm has acted as counsel to many personal representatives and has also been named by decedents to serve as personal representatives. We know where potential problems lie and take steps to avoid them altogether or to develop a strategy for minimizing their impact.
Probate litigation and more
Our law firm has many years of experience handling Orphan’s Court matters related to probate and estate administration. Some of the issues that arise include:
- Preparing initial petition for probate
- Contesting wills alleging undue influence or lack of capacity
- Inventorying and appraising property and real estate
- Assisting in securing bonds for personal representatives
- Preparing administration accounts
- Settling claims against an estate
- Advising heirs in obtaining advice on tax implications
- Representing the interest of an heir
- Representing a claimant against an estate
- Undertaking post-mortem planning for survivors, including establishing trusts to handle estates
- Administering trusts
If you need to submit a will to the Orphan’s Court for probate, contact our law firm for advice and representation. Call Davis & Palumbo, LLC at 410-535-1780 to learn how we can help you avoid probate litigation and keep the process moving forward.