Estate Planning For Your Future
We help families prepare for and through crises. With our estate planning services, we focus on getting you and your family through life’s unexpected twists and turns. And when those unexpected twists and turns arise, we are here to help you navigate the legal process in what may be the most challenging time you’ve experienced.
Our attorneys at Oliver Leffler Law draw on their years of experience and knowledge to create comprehensive estate plans that are specifically tailored to your needs. If you worked with our team in the past to create an estate plan or have an estate plan that was created years ago, our attorneys are available to conduct estate planning reviews.
When tragedy hits, we are here for you. Whether you’re serving as a Personal Representative or you are a beneficiary of an estate, we will advocate for your interests throughout the administration of your loved one’s estate. If you are a Personal Representative, our attorney will assist you with the probate process to ensure you are complying with the duties of that role.
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 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, or 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 they would normally be afforded in a will. This type of trust may also 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 it 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 that 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 enters into one of three statutory conditions:
- End-stage condition
- A persistent vegetative state
- Terminal condition
- In Maryland, women may choose to include a provision to alter their decisions in the event that they are pregnant