A Will is the traditional legal document in which
you identify those individuals (or institutions) who will receive your
property and possessions after your death. In a Will, you appoint a
Personal Representative (Executor) who may be an individual or an
institution. After your death, your Will ensures that your
property is distributed in accordance with the provisions of your
Will. In a Will, you also name the guardians of your minor
children (if applicable), make specific gifts to individuals or
charities or even, include burial instructions.
A Will is a critical document. One’s objectives can
be totally thwarted without a Will. For instance, did you know
that under Maryland law, if you die while you are married and without
children, but you are survived by either of your parents, that your
surviving spouse must share your estate with your surviving parent?
Further, a properly drafted Will can save you significant estate taxes
by making use of exemptions and elections allowed by tax law. It is
important that your Will take into account provisions dealing with both
the federal and Maryland estate tax.
In short, a properly drafted Will should accomplish
3 things: (1) implement your desired objectives regarding the
disposition of your assets (2) appoint fiduciaries (Personal
Representatives, Trustees and Guardians) who would act in your stead
after your death, and (3) eliminate or reduce federal estate taxes.
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