Why You Need a Will Prepared by an Attorney?
Your home is most likely the largest asset you own. However, you may also have life insurance, pension and profit sharing plans, deferred compensation benefits and other assets such as stocks and/or bonds and other investments and benefits payable at death. Since your will is likely to cover more than your home and most other assets, why would you go to a stationery store and purchase a “form” will or spend a few bucks on a will downloaded from the internet or copy a will from Uncle Charles?
If one of your largest assets is your, or you and your spouse’s, residence, or if you have a significant other or if you are divorced, you need to be sure that you have a will in place that directs not only your largest asset but all others to the people you want to receive your property/assets upon your death.
A properly drawn will should result in your property going to the person or persons you want to receive it. If you don’t have a will, your property may go one-third to your spouse and two-thirds to all of your children or close relatives following a pecking order established by the State of Maryland.
The issue of domicile determines the proper place in which to make your will. Domicile is the state in which you permanently reside. If your domicile is other than the State of Maryland this could lead to unexpected results. If your domicile is Maryland and you move to Florida, a will properly made in Maryland should be recognized as valid in Florida. A Maryland lawyer can best deal with this issue as well as other issues.
Let’s assume you have a brother, a child, or live in a small family with a few relatives and you leave one or all of these people out of your will. Leaving any or all of those persons out of your will may lead to a contest of your will. A will contest may result in compromising those named beneficiaries in your will. A beneficiary may want to give up a part of his/her inheritance rather than to fight in court and delay the inheritance; or if the person you left out of your will prevails in court, then your intended beneficiary may receive nothing. By naming the persons in this paragraph above and providing each one with a small sum of money or a property item may prevent a relative from contesting the will.
A will covers property that is owned by the individual at the time of death and that property becomes the probate estate. Life insurance is not part of the probate estate, with many exceptions. Placing a testamentary trust in the will may provide for immediate and long term support of children, dependent parents, or persons who would be best served by not receiving all of their inheritance at one time. The testamentary trust may delay distribution of the assets until the beneficiaries possess sufficient experience dealing with significant amounts of money or other assets.
Understanding the roles of the person responsible for the administration of the probate estate is very important. The personal representative (in some states called the executor) is the person who provides the probate court with the will, gathers the assets, pays taxes such as final income taxes of the decedent and taxes on income while the estate is being administered, and provides a full accounting to the probate court as well as to the beneficiaries. Attorneys who prepare last wills and testaments will be familiar with all the rights and responsibilities of the personal representative. As a result of the attorney specifically identifying those responsibilities and if you designate your attorney as the personal representative in your will, there will be a seamless transition into his/her duties as the administrator of your probate estate. Additionally, attorneys who are familiar with the drafting of wills are often familiar also with issues that arise during the estate administration process and can assist your personal representative in fulfilling his/her duties, if that is desired.
You would not purchase a home without the advice of persons knowledgeable about real estate so why would you risk all of your assets not going to the people you want to receive them after your death?
Fred Antenberg has prepared several hundred wills and has administered many estates over the past thirty years and can assist you in achieving distribution of your wealth through a properly made will.
Call Fred today at 410 730 4404 for a free initial consultation. Then, before your appointment, complete the Confidential Information Form located on this website and bring it with you. It will help us make the most efficient use of time in our first meeting.