In Maryland, a spouse can claim an “allowance” of up to 1/3 of your probate estate, or even 1/2 if you do not have children. This makes it especially important to update the titling of assets, distribution terms of your will, and beneficiary designations of accounts and insurance policies. Many people also name their spouse their Attorney-in-Fact and/or Health Care Agent.
As covered here, updating your documents will not be the highest priority during such a trying time. But neglecting to review your estate plan could result in the wrong party inheriting your assets or leave you depending on someone no longer in your life to make critical healthcare decisions should you suddenly become unable to do so.
Who would take care of your children should the worst happen? How will they be provided for? This and many other questions are answered in your will. You can even go so far as establishing a trust to provide funds for specific purposes such as future education. Every parent wants the best for their children, and in these instances, that means planning ahead.
It may seem counterintuitive but losing a family member can also affect your estate plan. If the deceased was named an agent in a Power of Attorney or to receive an asset in your will, these designations should be updated when appropriate to ensure your wishes are most accurately reflected in the documents.
As long as a person is mentally competent, they can amend or execute estate planning documents. This can be especially important for someone experiencing a long-term illness or disability. In such cases it is crucial to express your wishes about potential treatments to be withheld or administered and to appoint a trusted agent to make decision should you become unable to do so, while you are still able.
Sudden changes in finances can quickly solve many of life’s problems, but without proper forethought, they can create several more. Sudden large gains, bequeathing over certain amounts to specific individuals, and many other monetary decisions can have major tax implications both during and after your life. Many government assistance programs also have strictly enforced income/wealth thresholds.
Mr. Abraham is an experienced attorney and founding member of the Law Firm of Abraham & Bauer. The Towson, MD office of the firm concentrates its practice in Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate, Medical Assistance (Medicaid), Guardianship, Asset Preservation and Fiduciary Representation.
He is an active member in a number of professional organizations that focus on law, the senior community, and estate planning. He works with clients in Central Maryland, especially in Towson, Hunt Valley, Lutherville/Timonium, Parkville, White Marsh, Bel Air & Northern Baltimore City.
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