Last Will and Testament

Make sure your wishes are known

What is a will?

A will, sometimes called a last will and testament, is a legal document that tells your family and the state your intentions for your assets after your death. We recommend all our clients draft a will. This is true no matter how small your estate or whether or not you use other estate planning tools to distribute your assets.

Key Elements of a Will

In general, your will outlines five key elements:

1. Your Personal Representative

You choose who will act as the personal representative of your will. As a personal representative, he or she will need to pay your final debts, appraise the value of any assets, calculate your tax burden, and distribute the remaining assets to your heirs according to the wishes you outline in your will.

2. The Powers of Your Personal Representative

You will need to grant your personal representative certain powers that enable him or her to serve as your personal representative and handle the estate administration process. When we write your will or create other estate plan documents, we can provide the language for this section of your will.

3. Who Will Receive Your Assets

This is what almost everyone thinks of when they picture a will. You will outline what everyone gets after you pass away. You can leave everything to your spouse or children or split it between grandchildren. It is up to you. You can even opt to leave your entire estate to a charitable organization.

4. Who Will Provide Care for Your Minor Children

Not all wills have this provision, but it is probably the most important part of your will if you have minor children. We can help you name a guardian who provides for their day-to-day care if something happens to you and their other parent. We can also put plans in place to secure their financial future with a trust or other estate planning tool.

5. How Asset Transfers Will Take Place

Finally, your will outlines how and when your assets will change hands. In most cases, they will transfer to your loved ones during the probate process following your death.

Understanding What Happens Without a Will

If you do not have a will or other estate plan in place at the time of your death, you leave the State of Maryland and its courts in charge of determining what happens to your home, nest egg, and other assets. Any other states where you hold real property will also decide what happens to the assets you worked so hard to obtain.

When your estate ends up in a courtroom with strangers making decisions about it, the outcome is truly unpredictable. Laws can vary widely from state to state, and each judge in the same state may even interpret them differently.

The only way to ensure your family members and loved ones get the assets you want to leave for them after your death is to have a will or estate plan in place.

How we serve our clients in Anne Arundel County and all across Maryland

Estate Planning

Planning for your own end of life, or a situation where due to disability you are unable to manage your assets, isn’t exactly comfortable. However, putting off planning can lead to more stress for your loved ones and unnecessary uncertainty around what happens to your estate.

Learn More from our Estate Planning lawyers

Trusts

Trusts are an estate planning tool we often use for asset protection, for providing a plan for the management of your assets upon your disability, and to help our clients’ families avoid the Maryland probate process.

Learn more about trusts.

Living Wills

A living will is a legal document that lays out what medical decisions you would like to be made in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes. This could include life-saving measures, pain management, organ donation, and more.

 

Learn More about Living Wills in Maryland.

Probate

Whether your loved one has a clear estate plan, or no plan at all, the probate process adds unneeded stress to your life during a difficult time. Not knowing how the courts will distribute your family member’s assets can feel scary.

We believe everyone deserves the time they need to grieve the loss of a loved one and probate shouldn’t get in the way.

Learn more from our Maryland Probate Lawyers today.

Adult Guardianship

A guardianship is the legal process used by the courts to appoint someone to make legal and financial decisions for people who cannot do it for themselves due to a physical or mental disability. If a guardian is appointed, the person subject to the guardianship loses the ability to make decisions for themselves for as long as they remain disabled.

Learn more about adult guardianship in Maryland.

Asset Protection

Creditors may come after your home if you file for bankruptcy or if they win a lawsuit against you. If you believe this may be a possibility, we can help you put an asset protection plan in place that protects your family home. We can explain to you how an irrevocable asset protection trust works, and what this means for making future decisions about your property.

Learn More about asset protection in Maryland.

Last Will and Testament

A will, sometimes called a last will and testament, is a legal document that tells your family and the state your intentions for your assets after your death. We recommend all our clients draft a will. This is true no matter how small your estate or whether or not you use other estate planning tools to distribute your assets.

 

Learn more about creating a will in Maryland

Medicaid Crisis

A common misconception after a loved one enters a nursing home is it’s too late to protect their assets and they’ll have to spend their life savings before they can apply for Medicaid assistance.

It's not too late! Our Medicaid Crisis Lawyers can help you protect your loved one’s assets and work to make them Medicaid eligible even after they enter a nursing home.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney grants another person the authority to make medical or financial decisions and act on your behalf. We create and use these legal documents for various purposes during the estate planning process, but the two most common are financial power of attorneys and health care power of attorneys.

Learn more about powers of attorney in Maryland.

Chesapeake Care Plan

Even the best-laid plans change. Laws are always being updated and changed. People move, get married, get divorced, have kids, and any number of other changes.

We created The Chesapeake Care Plan to keep your plan up-to-date so it will work as intended when you need it most. Better yet, by enrolling in the program, you’ll get a wide range of services at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay for them separately.

Learn more about The Chesapeake Care Plan.

Elder Law

3 in 4 senior adults over the age of 65 will require long-term nursing care at some point in their life. Our Elder Law Lawyers offer estate planning, Medicaid crisis response, and other services to help senior adults plan ahead or respond to a crisis in health requiring nursing care.

Learn more about Elder Law in Maryland.

Wills and the Maryland Probate Process

In general, there are two types of wills: those that stand-alone and those that support a trust-based estate plan. However, all wills need a personal representative who will enter them into probate and handle the entire process.

The Maryland probate process can be expensive and time-consuming. Your family members could be denied access to the money you left for them for months or even over a year before the process is complete.

Creating an Estate Plan that Avoids Probate

There are ways you can help your loved ones avoid the hassle and expense of the probate process after your death. Your first option is naming a beneficiary on any account that allows it. This allows for the transfer of these assets into your loved one’s name without involving the probate process.

Alternatively, you can place all your assets in a trust. Trusts do not require probate and can allow for quick distribution of assets.

Reach Out to a Maryland Estate Planning Attorney About Your Will Today

If you have questions or concerns about creating or updating your will in Maryland, the estate planning team at Chesapeake Wills & Trusts can help. No matter your goals or the complexity of your estate, our Glen Burnie estate law attorneys can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that works well for you and your family. Call us today at 410-590-1900 or sign up for one of our free, educational webinars to learn more.

Chesapeake Wills and Trusts Attorneys

The Chesapeake Promise

When working with our team, you can expect us to:

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Treat you like our own family

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Always explain the next steps

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Keep you in the loop

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Work for your best interests

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