Estate Planning Services
If you have yet to start on your estate plan, you are hardly alone. In fact, despite acknowledging the need for estate planning, over half of all Americans do not have an estate plan in place. There is no time like the present to get started on your plan. A well thought out estate plan can protect you, your assets, and your loved ones as well as ensure that your wishes are honored during critical times in your life when you may not have a voice. At The Law Offices of Kirk Halpin & Associates, P.A., our experienced estate planning attorneys look forward to developing a lifelong relationship with you to ensure that your estate plan grows along with your assets and your family.
When Should I Start My Estate Plan?
Among the most frequently given reasons for the lack of an estate plan are two common estate planning myths. The first is that you only need an estate plan if you have a sizeable and/or valuable estate. The second is the belief that estate planning is not necessary until you have a family to provide for and protect. The truth is that every adult can benefit from having an estate plan in place, meaning there is no good reason to wait to get started on your plan. Just a few of the numerous and varied reasons to have an estate plan include to:
- Ensure that you do not die intestate which allows the state intestate succession laws to dictate what happens to your assets.
- Protect the assets you do have from a variety of threats.
- Guarantee that someone of your choosing makes important decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself because of incapacity.
- Guard a minor child’s inheritance.
- Make sure your wishes are honored with regard to end of life medical treatment and/or funeral and burial decisions.
What Should Be Included in My Estate Plan?
Estate planning is a highly personal, and often sensitive, endeavor. As such, every estate plan is as unique as the person creating the plan. There are, however, some common estate planning tools and strategies that you may choose to include in your estate plan, including:
- Last Will and Testament – a Will ensures that you do not leave behind an intestate estate. It also ensures that the assets you do own, including sentimental and family heirloom items, are gifted to beneficiaries of your choice. Furthermore, a Will lets you appoint an Executor (also known as personal representative) who will oversee the probate of your estate and offers you the only official opportunity to nominate a Guardian for your minor children.
- Trust – a trust is a relationship whereby property is held by one party for the benefit of another. As the Settlor of the trust, you appoint the Trustee who will be responsible for administering the trust. A trust can be used to achieve a wide range of objectives within your plan, from avoiding probate to planning your funeral.
- Power of Attorney – a Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an Agent to act on your behalf in legal matters. The extent of the authority you grant to the Agent, and when that authority ends, depends on the type of POA you create.
- Advance Directive – Maryland recognizes two types of advance directives. A Selection of Health Care Agent lets you appoint someone to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself while the state’s version of a living Will is known as a Treatment Preferences which allows you to make important decisions now about your own health care in the event you are unable to make them at some point in the future.
The estate planning services attorneys at The Law Offices of Kirk Halpin & Associates, P.A., would be honored to help you create a comprehensive estate plan that will protect you, your assets, and your loved ones both now and in the future. Contact the team today by calling 410-531-1700 or fill out our online contact form so we can help you get started today.