Estates / Wills

For information on administering an estate for someone who has passed away, please see Estate Administration.  

Estate & Life Planning.  Wills. Trusts (Revocable, Living and Irrevocable).  Powers of Attorney.  Advance Directives / Living Wills / Health Care Agent Designation.

To set up an estate plan, or to get more information on Maryland law for wills or trusts, contact the firm:

Call 410-216-7000 for a no cost phone call of up to 10 minutes, 

email an estate planning attorney at the firm (no charge for preliminary email)  or read below for more information. 

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How do I avoid Probate?  

Probate is the process of handling one's estate supervised by the Court or Register of Wills.  In Maryland PROBATE TAXES are relatively modest although the PROBATE PROCESS can be time consuming and costly.  Probate may take 6 - 18 mos in an "average" Maryland case although this is heavily dependent on the specific facts.  

A TRUST, if set up properly, avoids probate, as do certain Transfer-on-Death designations and/or Life Estate Deeds. 

Keep in mind that avoiding probate does not avoid all taxes!  Nor does it necessarily keep assets out of creditor reach!   Keeping things out of probate may make it easier for your heirs / beneficiaries, however.  There are some easy and cost effective ways to avoid probate, like having an attorney prepare an enhanced life estate deed, doing Transfer on Death or beneficiary designations  or some more advanced planning like creating a Revocable Trust.   (see Attorney Fees for representative pricing)

How do I update / change my Will? 

If you only have a few changes to an existing will, you may be able to do a formal amendment to your Will (called a Codicil).  Arden Law Firm can prepare basic Codicils for a flat fee of $155 in most cases. 

 If you are changing many things in an old Will (or can't find the original) you may need to prepare a new Will.   Arden Law Firm can prepare a new Will (or amend your existing Will) no matter who prepared it, but if you had a competent attorney prepare your original Will it may make sense to first ask what that attorney would charge since they may offer a discount to make a new will with only minor edits.   In any case, note that every Will and Codicil needs to meet the formal requirements for witnessing.  Also,  Maryland law does not ordinarily recognize a marked-up will as valid so contact an attorney before editing!

Do I need a Trust

Not everyone needs a Trust, but for those who do Arden Law Firm offers attorney prepared Revocable Trust Packages for $850 - $1000 for individuals and $1250 - $1500 for a husband and wife planning together. (Special Needs or very complex trusts may require more work) The Trust Package includes Wills, Power of Attorney, Advance Directive / Health Care Power of Attorney, Revocable Trust and Maryland Deed into Trust. 

Sometimes trusts, particularly Revocable Living Trusts, are "oversold" to planners with basic needs.  If you have a simple estate, single lifetime marriage, adult children of your marriage and don't own real estate oustide of Maryland, a trust may not be necessary.  

Sometimes a Trust is the best solution, and frequently a Trust is recommended for the following scenarios:

  • bended family (children and stepchildren from prior marriage(s)) 
  • special needs (where a beneficiary has severe medical issues or lacks the ability to handle their own affairs) 
  • addictions or poor spending habits (where a beneficiary has significant drug or alcohol addictions or frequently finds themselves in financial jams)
  • family vacation properties (where the original owner wants to keep property for a specified use for a long period of time)
  • real estate in multiple jurisdictions (where property is owned in different states)
  • many intended beneficiaires (where the number of children/grandchildren would make joint ownership of real estate difficult or cumbersome)

If you think you may need a trust call 410-216-7000 for a no-cost initial 10 minute phone call or send the firm an E-mail. (or if none of the above situations apply, ask about affordable Trust Alternatives!  

What kind of Trust should I have?

One author noted that there are as many different kinds of Trusts as a lawyer's imagination!   A trust involves property being held by a Trustee for the benefit of other people.  This could be for a spouse, for a minor child, for grandchildren or for almost any purpose one can imagine.  The most common types of trust types follow: 

  • Living Trust  - a living trust or "inter vivos" trust is simply one that comes into play while the Maker (Settlor) is still living.  Oftentimes this will be a Revocable Trust. 
  • Revocable Trust - a trust that can be changed for any reason; for most purposes property in a revocable trust is still treated as belonging to the person who set up the trust
  • Irrevocable Trust - a trust that cannot be changed at will.  Sometimes a revocable trust set up by two spouses becomes irrevocable once one dies. 
  • Marital Trust - a type of trust that allocates property among spouses to minimize federal death taxes.  Due to recent changes in federal taxation law, the need for Marital Trusts or A/B Trusts or A/B/C Trusts has been minimized. 
  • Testamentary Trust - a trust written into someone's Last Will & Testament

Affordable Trust Alternatives 

Sometimes a Trust isn't necessary and a planner can get all the benefit of a trust without the cost.  This is particularly true in situations where the only significant asset is a single home and the planner has one or two people in mind to get the home. 

Ask about Enhanced Life Estate Deeds.  From $240 (plus gov't recording fees, generally $60), one can avoid probate and the associated probate taxes and expense without giving up control of property and without a trust!  

there are as many different kinds of Trusts as a lawyer's imagination!

© ArdenLawFirm 2014-2018  Managing Attorney Cedulie Laumann, Esq.