The starting point for most people in Maryland who are interested in estate planning is to understand wills and how they are part of a comprehensive estate plan. The fact is that wills are usually the bedrock of any given estate plan, so this is a good starting point.
So, what is a will and why do you need one? Well, if you have assets—and most people do—you probably want to have a plan for passing those assets on to others after you die. As a recent news article noted, without a correctly drafted and executed will in place, your assets will pass as designated by state law. Usually, most people have their own ideas of how they would like their assets to be distributed.
That is the basic premise of having a will: to provide instructions for who will receive your assets. Unless you want to have state law governing this process, you need to have a will in place. Also, in the will, you will designate an “executor” who will marshal your assets, present a plan to a probate court for paying debts and taxes and then, ultimately, for distribution of remaining assets as directed by your will.
As our readers can probably tell, properly drafting and executing a will and other estate planning documents can become complicated in a hurry. In most situations, it is best to sit down and analyze how, exactly, your specific financial and family circumstances should be addressed in estate planning documents. Every situation is unique, so be sure to do the research that is necessary to determine the best path forward.