Estate planning gives you a way to control your assets, what happens to them, and who has access to them even after your death. The Chesapeake Wills and Trusts team can help you put a plan in place to dictate what happens to your stuff, including:
- Your home
- Bank accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Retirement accounts
- Prized collections
- Family heirlooms
Your plan will address what happens after your death, as well as who can make decisions on your behalf if you suffer an incapacitating illness or injury.
3 Essential Questions for Every Estate Plan
We strive to answer the following three questions with each estate plan we build:
1. Who Will Have Control Over Your Assets?
Without proper planning, there will be no one who would be able to control your assets if you are under a disability or after your death without turning to the court for assistance. However, with a properly designed estate plan, you can designate who will be in control of your assets if you are unable to do so yourself.
Your estate plan will grant control of your assets to your loved ones (or anyone else of your choosing) at the time of your death and will name a power of attorney who can make financial decisions for you if you suffer a disability and cannot do it yourself. You make the choice of who is in charge of your assets in each of these situations, and who can make the decision about whether you are able to remain in control or not.
2. Who Benefits from Your Assets?
You will choose who benefits from your assets upon your disability or after your death. You can select who receives which assets and even put guidelines on how you want them used in some cases.
Depending on your family’s unique needs, we can use estate planning tools to ensure continued care for dependents with special needs, to pay for your grandchild’s college education, or meet other specific needs. We can even help you leave assets to a beloved nonprofit group, in addition to your heirs.
3. When Do These Beneficiaries Get Access to Your Assets?
Lastly, you will determine when your beneficiaries get access to your assets. In most cases, this occurs at the time of your death. However, if you become incapacitated before your death, we can include language that ensures they gain access at that time.
Occasionally, we have a situation where the beneficiaries should not have immediate or open access to the assets immediately after your death (e.g., your beneficiary is under the age of 18 or you want them to save it for a specific expense). We can dictate the rules about when they gain access through the trust documents we create.
The trustee who controls the assets will have specific rules about when the beneficiary can receive money and for what reasons. This makes it possible to wait until a beneficiary turns 25 or graduates college before they get access, even if you die several years before this milestone.
We Can Help You Create Your Estate Plan
Sometimes we call the comprehensive estate planning process “writing your own rule book.” Writing your estate plan, or rule book, allows you to control almost all aspects of your financial future, as well as make decisions today about your own end-of-life care — even if you are unable to make decisions at that time.
Having a rule book in place takes the weight off the shoulders of your loved ones, ensuring they do not have to make any life or death decisions (e.g., whether you would want to remain on life support) or try to guess what you would want them to do. This book frees them from this burden and gives you peace of mind.
Some of the components of your rule book may include:
- A comprehensive estate plan including necessary wills and trusts
- Tools to help your family members avoid the probate process
- Medicaid planning and asset protection plans
- An advance directive and living will
- Powers of attorney for health care and finances
Reach Out to a Maryland Estate Planning Attorney Today
The estate planning team from Chesapeake Wills and Trusts can help you create a plan to address a wide variety of future concerns and contingencies. We will walk you through the process of writing your own rulebook, and help you answer the three essential questions for every estate plan. Call us today at 410-590-1900 to learn more about estate planning in Maryland.