One of the biggest issues with estate planning in Maryland is that people are reluctant to take that first step and create even a basic document that addresses their needs. Even those who have excuses that sound reasonable are mistaken when they do not take certain steps with their estate plan. To break through those excuses, it is imperative to know why the most frequently cited justifications for not having an estate plan are illogical. As with any legal concern, a law firm experienced in estate planning can help.
Avoiding the creation of an estate plan is a mistake and some of the reasons people give for not doing so do not hold water. One that is common is that the person does not believe they have the assets to warrant an estate plan. This is misplaced because there are always assets that must be addressed. Not having significant money in a bank account, a lucrative portfolio, a home or any other assets does not eliminate the wisdom of having an estate plan. For example, if there are young children, the document can say who the testator wants to be a guardian. Burial concerns and more can be part of the estate plan.
For those who already have an estate plan, it should be updated as time passes and circumstances change. Some might say that they have not had any significant life changes, therefore, the document can stay as is. Changes are unavoidable and even if they are not to the person him or herself. Tax implications can change with new presidential administrations. Being protected from these changes requires updating the document. If those in the person’s immediate family have not changed noticeably, other family members like parents and extended family can change. Addressing this in a will or other estate planning document might be needed.
When there is a beneficiary form, this must be updated if there are life changes even if the will was altered to account for them. A retirement account or a bank account can be separate from a will. The bank or insurer will be legally obligated to give the account and its contents to the person named on the document and not who is named in the will. This can be problematic if the testator divorced and did not change all his or her documents to account for the new situation.
Estate planning does not stop once the document is completed and filed away. Understanding how to maintain and update a document requires legal advice and guidance. A law firm that helps clients with their estate planning goals should be called for representation to have protection from all potential challenges with the document.