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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