Our experience at GDH Law is that many Maryland residents have a general understanding of the importance of estate planning. We base this comment on how many individuals reach out to our office to speak with a Lanham estate planning lawyer to discuss their will, a health care directive, a power of attorney, asset planning, and trusts.
However, our attorneys sometimes get the impression in speaking with families that didn’t have these end-of-life documents in place before their loved one received a memory disorder diagnosis or passed that they don’t realize estate planning was for everyone, no matter their age, stage of life, or socioeconomic status.
Our Lanham estate planning lawyers don’t want you to find yourself in a complicated situation whereby carrying out your or your loved one’s final wishes is not possible because the right documentation or instruments are not in place. GDH Law wants to be your reliable source for creating the most airtight estate plan possible that allows for the upholding of your final wishes. Our next day is not guaranteed. So, please contact our Prince George’s County law office to discuss your estate planning needs today.
Estate Planning Services Our Attorneys Offer at GDH Law
Estate planning is a broad field of law that encompasses a wide range of activities. Some of the more common ones that prospective clients look for our help with include:
Drafting Estate Planning Documents
A final will and testament (also simply known as a will) is a must-have component of any estate plan. It outlines your assets and who you want to receive them when you die. You can also appoint a guardian that you’d want to take care of your minor kids if something prematurely happened to you in that document as well. If you don’t draft a will, then Maryland intestate succession rules apply, which generally means your assets would pass to your next closest of kin in a certain order.
Two other critically important estate planning documents to draft are a health care power of attorney (also known as a health care proxy) and a health care directive. The former allows you to appoint an individual you want to tell doctors how to proceed if you were to become unconscious or otherwise incapable of doing so. The latter allows you to outline the different life-saving measures you’d be interested in your physicians taking if you couldn’t voice those preferences yourself. As you might surmise, age knows no limit when it comes to finding oneself in an unresponsive state, so having these documents in place ensures your life plays out as you would expect if in such an unfortunate situation.
A third estate planning document that may be helpful to have in place is a financial power of attorney.
This document, along with perhaps your completion of an authorization form that you put on file with your bank, gives someone else the ability to pay your bills, such as a mortgage or car payments, if you’re unwell and, thus, unable to do so yourself in addition to making other financial transactions on your behalf.
Personal Representative Responsibilities and Guidance
Another aspect of the estate planning process our attorneys aid with is serving as a personal representative for a decedent’s estate or guiding the person that the testator (the deceased individual) appointed to that role through their responsibilities, which include:
- Filing the decedent’s final tax return
- Notifying all potential creditors and heirs of the decedent’s passing
- Inventorying all the decedent’s assets
- Setting up a bank account from which they pay the decedent’s final bills
- Distributing any remaining estate assets to the intended recipient as per the decedent’s will
Handling Guardianship and Conservatorship Efforts
There are certain situations where a person may be deemed to no longer be capable of making decisions in their best interests. A guardianship is a situation where the Court appoints someone as guardian of their property. Once appointed to that role, it allows them to make either personal or financial decisions (or both) on behalf of a minor or disabled person.
Funding Trusts, Business Succession, and Other Asset Protection Planning
If you, a special needs child, or another loved one receives income-contingent government benefits, you know how critical it is to engage in asset protection planning to ensure your continued receipt of that funding. That’s part of the estate planning services we offer at GDH Law.
Each Lanham estate planning lawyer on our team also has extensive knowledge of the different types of trusts that exist, how to fund them, and the pros and cons associated with each, including tax and other asset protection benefits they afford you.
Also, if you own a company, then our business succession services are something you will want to look into. It serves as a guide map for ensuring a seamless hand-off of your business to your chosen successor so that it has the best chances of staying afloat following your retirement or death. Having a business succession plan in place is another way of continuing to take care of your family once you’re gone.
Will Contests and Estate Litigation
The two terms above go hand-in-hand. There are a number of reasons you may feel the need to contest a deceased family member’s or other loved one’s will. Trust beneficiaries may need to bring legal action when they don’t receive the funds promised to them.
Our Lanham estate planning attorneys have experience in determining whether prospective clients have valid grounds on which to contest a will and, if so, representing their interests in front of a probate judge within the Prince George’s County Orphans’ Court.
While we tried to include a sampling of the different end-of-life or estate planning services we offer, we know that we didn’t include everything. If you have any other needs that you believe fall within this practice area, call or contact us online to discuss them and whether our attorneys at GDH Law can help.
Why You Need the Help of a Lanham Estate Planning Attorney
There are many options online if you want to go with the do-it-yourself estate planning route. However, while those options have a low upfront cost, they may cost you dearly in the long run. How you anticipate caring for your surviving loved ones after you’re gone, for example, may not come to fruition—especially if the execution of your will isn’t done in accordance with Maryland law.
And, you risk a challenge to your will if there’s any chance that a potential heir can claim that you were not of testamentary capacity (of sound mind) when you executed your will.
We could go on and on with examples about why it’s more beneficial to have an attorney involved in any and every aspect of the estate planning process. So, do yourself a favor and contact GDH Law to set up a meeting with a Lanham estate planning lawyer. You’ll be glad that you did when the time comes to file those documents with the court or to answer allegations they aren’t properly executed.