McEvoy Law

Frederick Maryland Law Blog

Common misconceptions about wills and the probate process

Only 40% of Americans have taken time to sit down and draft a will. Researchers have found that warnings that all adults should have wills in place have often reached the other 60% of the adult population. The only problem is that many of the individuals that this message reaches are misinformed about what happens if they die without a will. Changing their perspectives isn't an easy feat.

Many individuals assume that their titled property such as their home will automatically pass to their spouse or other co-owner when they die regardless of whether there's a will in place or not. While this often happens if spouses or parents and their adult children took the time to add the appropriate names to the deed or to draft certain legal documents, it doesn't necessarily happen automatically.

Beneficiaries and heirs aren't the same thing

Heirs tend to line up when a testator, or will writer, dies. They do so because they want to be first in line to receive what they expect has been left to them in their loved one's will. Is that necessary though?

Some legal analysts say that potential heirs don't need to line up as the executor of a testator's estate will reach out to them if there are any items left behind to them. Heirs also don't have to line up because testators may have identified beneficiaries to receive their possessions instead.

What would you even put into a revocable living trust?

Up to this point, you have either actively avoided estate planning or just felt that it wasn't necessary yet. However, now, you are ready to take on the task of preparing for events in your future that you would rather not think about, such as incapacitation and death.

As you start your estate plan, one of the questions asked is whether you are considering a revocable living trust. You may not think you could benefit from one, but if you knew what type of property you could transfer into it, you may change your mind.

Planning now for the future of your small business

As a small business owner in Maryland, you know there are many important things you have to do and remember just to stay afloat. It took a significant amount of effort just to get to where you are and reach a certain level of success. While you may have no plans to leave your business any time soon, it is still beneficial to think about what may happen down the road.

Succession planning is an important step for every entrepreneur, regardless of where your business is or what you think may happen in the future. When you have a plan in place, you can have peace of mind from knowing that your interests are secure and your company can have operate successfully for years to come. If you do not have this type of plan in place, it may be prudent to work on one soon.

Why should you discuss estate planning with family on holidays?

One of the reasons that individuals become embroiled in heated disputes in which they contest wills or trusts after a loved one dies boils down to poor communication. So, many of these conflicts could be avoided if testators, or those drafting their wills, sat down with their family members and discussed things instead of leaving things to chance. The holiday season is a perfect time for doing this.

One of the worst times that families can sit down to discuss financial matters is when they're grieving the loss of a loved one. It's during these times that emotions are frayed and that individuals are most apt to make irrational decisions.

Common reasons why executors of wills end up with legal problems

Maryland executors have a single obligation to responsibly manage a decedent's estate. It's the personal representative's responsibility to pay off any creditors, to preserve the value of the estate's assets, to file the decedent's final tax return and to distribute any remaining property to the rightful heirs. While many executors successfully carry out their role, there are plenty of others that end up in legal or financial hot water for not doing so.

Inexperienced executors often make the mistake of not recording a testator's will with the probate court.

Be strategic about how you disinherit your family members

Some individuals tend to think that blood is thicker than water when they're asked to choose between family or friends. When it comes to drafting a will though, some testators would rather leave their assets to the family members that they've chosen instead of the relatives that they were born to or raised around. If you're planning to disinherit your family members, then there are certain ways that you should go about doing it.

One way that you can protect your loved ones from being dragged into a long, drawn-out legal battle after your passing is by including a no-contest clause in your will. Once you draft this, your loved ones will have to accept what you've left them. Such a clause generally spells out how your relative stands to lose everything if they sue the estate.

Not every Maryland estate has to be probated

Many Maryland residents draft a will so that they can decide who inherits their assets instead of a judge doing that for them. Even still, a testator's estate must be probated. It's during this process that a probate can decide to handle things differently. There are ways that you can avoid the probate altogether though.

One of the best steps that you can take if you have a life or other type of valuable insurance policy in place is to name a specific loved one as the beneficiary of its proceeds instead of your estate. This will allow any money to go directly to your designee, bypassing the probate process when you die.

Consider the following potential issues with your trustee choice

More than likely, you will discover that one of the most important and challenging decisions you will make during estate planning is choosing the individuals who will represent your interests. If you decide that a trust will do that best, you will need to choose a trustee.

Of course, you should choose someone you trust and who is willing to do the job, but you also need to consider other factors as well. This article explores some of the potential problems that could arise during trust administration that you may want to consider before appointing a trustee.

Common executor errors that could lead to trouble

If you agreed to serve as the executor of the estate of a loved one, you may have gotten an overview of your responsibilities. Now that your loved one has passed away, you may find yourself intimidated by those responsibilities.

The last thing you want to do is make a mistake that could end up costing the heirs and beneficiaries -- and you. In some cases, you could end up personally liable for your errors. Below are some of the mistakes that could come back to haunt you long after the administration of the estate is complete.

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McEvoy Law
8 West Third Street
Frederick, Maryland 21701

Phone: 301-228-0810
Fax: 301-694-2754
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