Why create a will?
The rules of law are strict and not individualized. State intestate laws make no room for gifting to charity, the establishment of a trust, forgiveness of loans, or anything else. Your wishes are not relevant to state intestate laws. State intestate laws do not allow for bequests of any nature to anyone absent their being provided for by state intestacy statutes. Friends, family (other than immediate) get nothing. Your Church, Synagogue, Mosque, or other religious affiliations get nothing. Charitable giving will not occur. You spend your entire life working and saving, but without a Last Will, the government, and only the government, will determine what happens to your estate.
What is a Last Will and Testament? What goes into a Last Will and Testament?
The basic structure of a Last Will and Testament is:
- Preamble: name and domicile of the testator and a statement of the family and heirs;
- Funeral provisions (we will also make provisions for this outside of your Will too so that your desires are sure to be taken care of by your family or Personal Representative);
- Payment of taxes;
- Specific Bequests;
- Residuary Bequests;
- Fiduciary and Guardian appointments;
- Attestation clause;
Just as we are all different, no one size fits all when it comes to drafting a Will. Your situation will be unique to you, and therefore you Last Will and Testament should, and will be, different from everyone else’s, including your spouse. No two Wills should be alike, although they could be similar. For more than twenty years, we have assisted both rich and poor, young and old, single and married, with the drafting and execution of their Last Will and Testament. We know the questions to ask so that your wishes are fulfilled by the Personal Representative.
What about my children? How are the affected by a Last Will and Testament?
Minor children (under 18) cannot hold title to property. If you have children under 18, transfers to a child can be very problematic absent a Last Will and Testament. If your estate will exceed $10,000, and you have children, then we know what you must do to protect your children, protect property that you may leave for your children, and how to make life easier for any future guardians of your children.
Maryland has a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) that governs the transfer of property to minors. However, UTMA transfers do not work under all circumstances, and more important, may actually do more harm than good. Think of it this way, none of us knows how we are going to die or under what circumstances. Assume that your death comes prematurely, and as a result there is a multimillion dollar insurance settlement as a result of the same. Now assume that your children are your only survivors, and you were to die intestate. Would you want your children upon reaching their eighteenth birthday to become instant millionaires? Most parents would say no, and we would too, because not many children know how to handle that much money. We know how to protect your children from themselves. We know how to insure that your values are reflected in your Last Will and Testament.
What if I have a Last Will and Testament that I do not like?
We can assist you in modifying, altering, or the outright drafting of a new Last Will and Testament. Under almost all circumstances, your Last Will and Testament can be changed. The key is that have must continue to have the capacity to make a Will. We know when it is best to modify your Last Will and Testament by way of a codicil, or via the revoking of your prior Wills and drafting a new Last Will and Testament.
What is a codicil?
A codicil is an amendment to a Last Will and Testament. If only a bequest is to be changed, then a codicil will most likely be the best method to make this change. When you execute a Codicil to your Will, you will republish your existing Last Will and Testament, but replace only the inconsistent provisions from your “old” Will that you want to supersede into your new and revised Last Will and Testament. A Codicil can be used in lieu of re-writing an entirely new Will. We know if a Codicil is appropriate for your needs, or if a new Last Will and Testament is better in your situation.
If I already have a Last Will and Testament do I have to get it renewed?
No, Last Will and Testament’s do not have to be renewed. However, you should seriously consider having your Last Will and Testament reviewed and revised every five to ten years. Not only does the law change that could affect your Last Will and Testament, but we all get older too. As we get older, our needs change, there are life changing events that occur (like the addition of children, grandchildren, or the loss of loved ones). Your Last Will and Testament should reflect the life changing events that have affected you. As an example, suppose all of your children are now grown, have their own careers, and you now have grandchildren. You decide that instead of providing for your children upon your death, you would prefer to establish an educational trust for the grandchildren. We know how to do that. Suppose you have decided to retire to Florida. We know how to make provisions for that event too. Or suppose you are thinking about moving into assisted living, or an independent living facility. We know what senior citizens need to do to protect their property, and families.