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General Estate Planning

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Probate in Howard County, Maryland (Part One)

What is probate? Probate is the system in place in most of the United States that administers the wills of estates. When you die, your estate passes through probate and money owed to creditors (and attorneys) is paid out, followed by property that is due to beneficiaries (heirs).

In Howard County, probate is a straightforward process. The Register of Wills in the county is located in the Circuit Courthouse in Ellicott City. The Register of Wills is the office that oversees administration and helps to guide personal representatives (executors) through the process toward its eventual conclusion and closure.


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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Retirement Planning and Estate Planning

It’s not uncommon for someone with retirement planning questions to realize they also need to prepare for estate planning and vice versa. Estate planning attorneys and financial planners routinely work together, and it’s not unheard of for an attorney to hold CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation. Retirement planning tends to be a lifelong endeavor while estate planning happens only on occasion, usually when someone has an event in his or her life which makes them realize they need to prepare to manage their affairs after they pass on.

Assets that are for retirement and for death are treated very differently by the government. Inheriting a 401k retirement can result in a heavy tax burden if you are not the spouse of the deceased.


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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Succession Planning

It sounds like something having to do with running a country. Succession planning isn’t just something kings and presidents worry about: people who run businesses are always worried about whether or not their business will live on after they die. After all, can you trust someone to run things as well as you do?

When discussing succession planning with an attorney, you should be advised of more than just who will inherit your business. You should be made aware that the person you select to own your business after you die will be responsible for its management, at least at a very broad and high level. You don’t want your business to die after you pass on.


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Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to Administer a Trust

Trust administration is a very important role for a person to take on. Being the trustee means holding on to the assets of someone else (usually) and distributing them to others (the trust’s beneficiaries). A trustee is someone who has been entrusted by a grantor to take care of these assets and to give them away under certain conditions that have been spelled out in the trust documents. You can see that the root word for trustee is “trust,” and there certainly is an element of trust in such an important role.

A trustee should be someone who is organized and good with money.


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Friday, May 6, 2016

Dying Without an Estate Plan

There’s a common belief, even held by some attorneys, that you do not need to have a will or any type of estate planning done before you die. Many feel that the intestacy laws, the laws regarding people who die without a will or trust that manages their assets, are written well enough that your loved ones will get what they need when you die.

For some, this will be true. If you own a home together with a spouse and you die, your spouse will own the house without having to go through probate as long as the home was purchased jointly by the spouses when they were married. Most people’s estates are made up of a piece of real property, a car or two, and whatever is left in the bank.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wills vs. Trusts

Generally, there are two ways to administer a person’s estate when they die: wills and revocable living trusts. Most attorneys draft wills for their clients, but a growing minority of attorneys draft revocable living trusts. Revocable living trusts are “sold” to clients as a way to avoid probate. Probate is, as you may know, the actual administering of someone’s estate. It’s how beneficiaries (or creditors) get their money! A revocable living trust avoids this process, saving time and money.


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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Why Use a Lawyer for Your Estate Planning? Why Not Something Like Legal Zoom?

Online estate planning is all the rage nowadays with companies like Legal Zoom and Rocket Law. Are they good choices for consumers? Obviously I'm biased as I am an attorney who practices estate planning. I think everyone should have their estate plan done by me! But I'm realistic to the fact that people are afraid of using lawyers due to the often high prices lawyers charge. Here are some reasons why I think drafting your estate plans online is a bad idea:

1. If you make a mistake, no one is around to catch it.


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