View Our Practice Areas

Estate Planning

Howard County Estate Planning Attorneys

Experienced in the Creation of Wills, Trusts and Other Tools

The lawyers of Willis Law Firm, P.A., have more than 30 years of experience in wills, trusts and other estate planning tools. We are available to assist people in Howard County and the surrounding parts of Maryland in planning for the financial well-being of loved ones by constructing estate plans that allow families to keep assets and avoid probate.

Contact us to learn about how our lawyers can help you design an estate plan that works for you. E-mail us or call us at 410-461-9400.

When you choose our law firm, we will work closely with you to ensure your wishes are carried out after death with minimal tax consequences. By using sophisticated techniques, such as the establishment of various types of trusts, our knowledgeable attorneys can enable you to preserve wealth for future generations and plan for incapacity due to illness or failing mental health.

Wills

Transfer of your assets after death is governed either by your will or, if you don't have a will, by statute. In order to prevent the state from deciding how your property is disbursed upon your death, you will need a will. If your estate warrants it, you may need to augment your will by using other estate planning tools.

A last will and testament can be a very flexible document, disposing of your assets as you wish, setting up trusts to take care of family members after your death, and taking advantage of any federal death tax exclusions or credits to which you may be entitled.

A will must be probated, however, resulting in some delay in the disbursement of assets. Also, your will becomes public record when it is probated. If your assets are sufficient to warrant it, and expediency and privacy are concerns, you may want to consider a living trust.

Living Trusts

If you have substantial assets, and you are interested in avoiding probate or maintaining privacy, a living trust may be appropriate for you. Your property is conveyed to a Maryland revocable living trust and is managed by the trustee (which will be you until your death or disability). Upon your death, the successor trustee named in the trust disburses the assets as specified by you in the trust. A trust is not admitted to probate, meaning that its terms are private, and the trustee does not need a court order to convey any of the property.

A living trust also offers an advantage for those who own real estate in another state. Your personal representative will not need to open an ancillary estate in that state in order to transfer the property. Of course, the property must be properly transferred to the trust.

Although a trust may save some probate costs, the value of the trust is still part of your gross estate, meaning you do not save any taxes. Also, the trust does not protect your assets from your creditors, and any income from trust assets flows directly through to you.

In Maryland, a revocable living trust allows you to revoke or change the terms at any time while you are still alive.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

If the amount of tax paid by your family upon your death is a consideration, an irrevocable life insurance trust may be appropriate for you.

This type of trust holds life insurance policies, and the trust (rather than a spouse or individual) is the beneficiary of the policies. Upon your death, the trust receives the proceeds. This provides a source of ready cash to pay taxes or to buy assets from your estate (or your trust) at fair market value, and then sell them in due course, rather than placing your estate in the position of selling the assets in a hurry to raise cash.

Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone now who will take care of your financial and personal affairs if you become incapacitated in the future. Your family would otherwise need to go to court to have a guardian appointed, and that person would be answerable to the court.

The person you name is called your attorney-in-fact, and has whatever powers you grant him or her in your will. All estate plans created by Willis Law Firm, P.A. include creation of power of attorney as part of the price.

Advance Directive for Health Care

An advance directive, sometimes known as a living will, is necessary to instruct your family and your doctors what to do in the event you are hospitalized and are unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

This document appoints a person to make those decisions for you. It provides information to the doctor and your appointee about your wishes for life support, pain medication and related matters. Every estate plan created by Willis Law Firm, P.A., includes an advance directive as part of the price.

Personalized Estate Planning

Contact us today to learn more about how we can build a customized estate plan for you.