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Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning in Maryland

Answers to common questions on wills and trusts from Bethesda attorneys

It is never too early to start thinking about your legacy. The Bethesda estate planning attorneys of John C. Hendricks with Paley Rothman provide advice to individuals and business owners from a range of wealth levels. We deliver personalized guidance to each client, but can help you get started by answering general questions, such as:

Contact a knowledgeable Bethesda estate planning lawyer for a free initial consultation

Located in Bethesda, Maryland since 1918, the law firm of John C. Hendricks with Paley Rothman provides trustworthy estate planning services. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call 301-652-8302 or contact us online.

When should you start estate planning?

Any adult can gain security by establishing an estate plan. It is wise to have the fundamental elements of your estate plan, such as a legal will, in place by the time you marry, have children, purchase property, grow your retirement savings or accrue wealth worth protecting. A Bethesda estate planning attorney can help you.


What happens if you die without a will in Maryland?

If you die without a will in Maryland, you will have died “intestate.” Maryland intestacy law sets forth the percentage of your estate that will be distributed to your spouse, children, parents and/or siblings. A priority order is set in the statute and assets are distributed to living family members based on that.


What is the benefit of an estate plan?

Having an estate plan allows you to make your own decisions about who will inherit your assets when you pass away, and who can take action on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Without an estate plan, there might be confusion and conflict if you are unable to communicate. When you die without a valid will, your assets are allocated according to intestacy laws.


What is a revocable living trust in Maryland?

A revocable living trust allows you to maintain control of all included assets. You can serve as trustee and make changes to the trust by adding or removing assets, or adding or removing beneficiaries. When you die, your beneficiaries collect what remains in the trust.


When should I consider an irrevocable trust?

An irrevocable trust can have financial benefits for the trust creator and their heirs. For example, it might lower the estate tax burden. You may also consider establishing an irrevocable trust if you want to protect your assets from creditors, or if you rely on Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.


Why should I execute an advance health directive?

When you cannot make informed decisions for yourself, an advance health directive can inform medical professionals about the type of care you would like to receive. The directive can provide instructions in regard to emergency treatment, life-sustaining measures and end-of-life care. By creating such a document, you may save your loved ones from painful guessing and stressful arguments.


What is the probate process in Maryland?

Probate is the process of proving the legitimacy of a will through the court system. Probate typically takes between nine and 18 months to complete, with time extensions if the estate is complex or the will is contested. Probate involves accounting for all assets and debts, paying creditors and distributing remaining property to designated heirs.