Law Office of Rick Todd Blog

Monday, July 31, 2017

What Is a Will and What Is an Estate Plan?

The term estate plan is, I believe, marketing terminology used by estate planning attorney to attract clients with money. I also believe that this terminology makes estate planning unattractive to most people since they do not have large “estates” and are just looking for a will. When I first heard the term “estate” in law school over a decade ago, I pictured a palatial estate with fountains and manicured lawns.

It usually takes the average person a little bit of research to understand that a person who creates an estate plan is really drafting your trust or will. Are there more components to it than that?

Typically an estate plan consists of a will, a living will (known as an advance directive in Maryland) and a power of attorney. The latter two documents are for when you are alive, and the first one is for when you are dead.

These documents are all necessary for virtually every household, not just palatial estates. It does no one any favors to make it seem like these documents are only for the rich.

And what about trusts? Trusts have a wide variety of uses, but for the average family they allow for money to be given to a loved one exactly as the trust creator or “grantor” wants. Most commonly this allows parents to give money to young people in a way that prevents them from misusing the money due to immaturity. Trusts are also used to avoid probate, the judicially overseen administration of an estate, though I do not recommend this usage.

While the people of Columbia and Ellicott City are well to do, their community is mixed enough to have people of all levels of wealth living within it. All these people need estate plans, and all of them need to avoid dying without a will or making use of cheap online substitutes.

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The Law Offices of Rick Todd has offices located in Columbia, Chevy Chase, Fairfax, Virginia, and Maryland and serves clients throughout Clarksville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Fulton, Rockville, Bethesda, Potomac, Laurel, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Washington D.C.

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