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Rockville Maryland Estate Litigation Legal Blog

Reduce the chance of disputes over your estate plan

Your estate plan is something that you hope will quell any fighting and arguing among your family members after you pass away. There are some ways that you can make it less likely that fighting will happen when you aren't around to try to referee things.

When you create an estate plan, you need to think carefully about how you are going to get everything set up. Once you do that, communication becomes the focal point. Together, being able to have everything in writing and letting everyone know what to expect, you may be able to help your family members move on.

Can you contest a will if the person is still alive?

If your loved one is still alive and has recently changed their will in a way that you are not happy with, you may be finding yourself looking into contesting it. Wait before you put time and effort into that, though, because you can't contest a will if the individual is still alive. Why? They can change their will at any time.

If you are unhappy about changes to the will, you may be able to contest the will after your loved one's death. At that time, you should be able to bring up past wills and other documents that support your claims, so that you have a better chance of the court agreeing and ruling in your favor.

Do you know the potential benefits of a trust for an estate plan?

Trusts are some of the most misunderstood legal documents commonly used by people planning their estates or hoping to protect their access to government insurance programs as they age. Many people think of trusts as a way for wealthy parents to leave money behind for their children or provide for cost of living expenses while their children are young and potentially irresponsible.

However, not only the mega-wealthy can benefit from the creation of a trust. The average family can also utilize them to streamline the handling of an estate. A trust can be something you fund early in life and use to protect your assets if you own a business as well.

How long do you have to challenge a Maryland will?

Losing a loved one often results in a period of depression for close family members and friends. Depression is often accompanied by a sense of emotionlessness or an inability to take action in areas of your life that require attention. How long this emotional response to a loss lasts will vary depending on many factors.

Unfortunately, the depression that often comes with grief could cause legal headaches for you in the future. If you don't take the time to review the estate plan or last will of your loved one, you may not realize if there are mistakes or real issues with those documents until it is too late. Heirs, family members and beneficiaries in Maryland have a limited amount of time in which to challenge estate documents.

What are the legal grounds for contesting a will?

Contesting a will can be a lengthy and costly challenge as the legal reasons to do so can be very difficult to prove. Someone usually can’t challenge a will just because they’re unhappy with the terms and nearly 99% will go through probate without issues.

Maryland has strict rules on who can create a will, how it can be created and what can be included in the document. The person making the will, called the testator, must be 18 years or older and legally competent, the will must be in writing, and the testator and two credible witnesses must sign it.

Should I set up a trust for my children’s inheritance?

As you start building your estate plan, you search for the best way to distribute your assets to your children. Setting up a trust can help protect your assets in multiple ways.

When you set up a trust, you choose a trustee, someone who manages the assets held in the trust. This is typically an attorney or a bank. The trustee follows instructions you leave for your money. Depending on how you set up your trust, assets may be delivered in one lump sum. Or they may pay out in smaller lump sums as your children reach certain ages.

Considerations for avoiding future inheritance conflicts

In creating your estate plan, you document your wishes to thoughtfully leave your assets to your spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings and other loved ones. Your plan is likely the result of considerable thought, effort and detail to protect against the unknowns of the future and provide for your loved ones.

Unfortunately, disputes can still occur after the death of a loved one, regardless of the meticulous effort that went into the estate plan. Whether your heirs get along great or constantly feud, anticipating inheritance issues can minimize the possibility of a contentious future dispute.

Is it smart to make your will online?

Quick, cheap and easy is generally a good way to get tasks done. However, when it comes to creating an estate plan, cutting corners to save time and money is not the way to plan for your family's future.

Online do-it-yourself estate planning services have begun popping up more and more often. While they may seem tempting with ease-of-use and low fees, creating an estate plan online may create more problems than it solves in the long run.

Where should you store your will?

What would you do if the will you created became lost or damaged and no one realized it until after your passing? Would your attorney or loved ones know where to find a copy? Improperly storing your will can lead to confusion when it comes time for a probate court to distribute your assets.

Instead of throwing your will in a drawer or somewhere it can become damaged or lost, consider these options:

Proactive estate planning can benefit blended families

Remarriage and blended families are increasingly common today across both Maryland and the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, data from a 2013 study showed that 40 percent of new marriages were a subsequent marriage for at least one spouse. In 1960, this number was at just 13 percent.

For blended families, the already complex topic of estate planning can be especially daunting. You may be hesitant on how to approach the subject with your spouse while adult children may grow concerned on their parent’s preparedness for the unknown.


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