Estate Planning for Your Future
Oliver Leffler Law helps families and individuals prepare for life’s unexpected twists and turns. Whether it is taking steps to ensure a plan to take care of your children, preserving assets, or articulating your last wishes, Oliver Leffler Law takes a comprehensive and individualized approach towards incapacity and death planning. Estate plans come in a variety of flavors, and our attorneys will be able to help you make a decision as to what documents are needed to achieve your estate planning goals. some of those documents include:
- Will: A Last Will and Testament, or Will, disposes of assets in a testator’s estate by naming specific beneficiaries and by including provisions that would facilitate the administration of the individual’s estate. A testator is an individual who has executed a Will. A Will only disposes of probate assets. Non-probate assets, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and assets held in trust, pass outside the probate process and to any beneficiary designated on those accounts. A parent may appoint a guardian of any minor children they may have within their Will, and there is judicial deference to such appointments so long as no natural parent survives.
- Trust: A Trust is an agreement that allows the settlor, the person creating the Trust, to determine how and when Trust assets will be given to the Trust’s beneficiaries. Trusts can be testamentary (created within a Will) or inter vivos (created during the lifetime of the settlor). Testamentary Trusts are funded with probate assets, and the settlor creates the Trust in order to have more control over the disposition of Trust assets than what would normally be afforded in a Will, and may be able to minimize the estate’s tax consequences. In contrast, an inter vivos revocable Trust, also known as a Living Trust, is used to avoid probate on certain assets, but also allows the settlor to have more control over the disposition of the Trust assets. A Living Trust must be properly funded during the life of the settlor, which requires retitling assets in the name of the Trust. Examples of specific trusts include Pet Trusts and Special Needs Trusts.
- Power of Attorney: A Power of Attorney creates an agency-principal relationship between the person who is creating the Power of Attorney and their designated Attorney-in-Fact. The Power of Attorney expressly authorizes an agent to act on behalf of the principal in many capacities including banking transactions and real estate transactions. In Maryland, a Power of Attorney is presumed to be durable, meaning that the Power of Attorney is still effective in the event the principal becomes incapacitated.
- Advance Medical Directive: An Advance Medical Directive incorporates the designation of a Health Care Power of Attorney and a declarant’s wishes in certain medical conditions. A declarant, the person who is creating the Advance Medical Directive, can decide whether to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures and withhold or withdraw artificial hydration and nutrition if the declarant develops into one of three statutory conditions: 1) end-stage condition, 2) persistent vegetative state, or 3) terminal condition. In Maryland, women may choose to include a provision to alter their decisions in the event they are pregnant.