What is Estate Planning, and why do I need it?
You may be thinking, I don’t need estate planning because I don’t have a lot or it will all just go to my . . . (spouse, children, or parents). This may or may not be true.
Are you married? Do you have children? Do you own your own home? Do you have retirement accounts? Life insurance? Do you care what will happen to you if you have dementia, or are in a coma and are unable to care for yourself? Do you care what will happen to your children after your death?
Do you want your minor children to receive their entire inheritance on their 18th birthday, which they can then spend irresponsibly or fall victim to financial scheme, or do you want a responsible person to manage the money for them, and use it to pay for their college tuition? Do you want to provide for your grandchildren, but have someone hold the money for their benefit until they are older?
Then you need estate planning.
The “definition” of Estate planning is, I want to be able to control my property while I’m alive, provide for and take care of my family and myself if I become incapacitated, and to give, what I have, to who I want, when I want, how I want, and to pay the least amount of taxes, court costs, and administrative fees as possible. KMC Law of MD believes that all adults, regardless of age, marital status, wealth, and whether or not they have children need to have four critical documents in place:
Estate Planning for Families with a Child with Special Needs
Planning for the future of a child with special needs requires a delicate balance of issues such as: where will our child live and who will oversee his or her care after we’re gone? who would understand our child’s needs? what percentage of assets should go to each child? how can I transfer assets without affecting my child’s government benefits eligibility? can I use my retirement plans and home to fund a trust? does my child need both a trust and ABLE account?
There are no one-size fits all answers to any of these questions. KMC Law of MD will talk with you about all of these issues and help make sure your current and future planning goals are met.
Estate Planning for Unmarried Partners
Unmarried partners can obtain many, but unfortunately not all of the same rights established in law that married couples have with regards to inheritance, hospital visitation, and medical decision making unless they prepare in advance. Properly prepared advance directives, including a durable power of attorney and designation of healthcare surrogate are essential before a debilitating illness or death. Disability and estate planning concerns remain the same for all committed couples; however the options, especially as related to reducing tax burdens are different.
Estate Planning for Blended Families
When parents remarry, they may not realize how easy it is to accidentally disinherit their own children. While your Will might leave an inheritance to your children, if your assets are jointly owned everything would go to your new spouse, leaving your children without an inheritance.
Planning for a blended family requires a delicate balance of issues such as: what percent of assets should go to each spouse's children? What is a fair split of retirement plans and equity in the home? If there is a prior divorce agreement, how does it affect the distribution of assets? There are no one-size fits all answers to any of these questions. KMC Law of MD will walk you through all of these issues and help make sure your goals are met, whether you are a new blended family or you have been together for many years.