Annapolis Will & Trust Lawyer
Drafting Wills and Trusts for Clients Throughout Annapolis
Wills and trusts are two estate planning tools that you can use to control the way your assets are distributed after your death. Each has its own set of advantages. If you want a personalized estate plan that meets your unique needs, consult with our experienced will and trust lawyer at The Law Offices of John Umholtz. We can help you assess your needs and create an estate plan to match.
Schedule a free initial consultation with The Law Offices of John Umholtz to learn more.
What Is a Will?
A will is a legal document that allows a person to state their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets when they die. This involves naming an executor who will ensure the terms and conditions are carried out appropriately. A will can also allow the creator (“testator”) to name a legal guardian to care for their minor child they have left behind after death or if they become incapacitated before the children reach adulthood. Note that assets named in a will are not automatically distributed and have to go through the probate process.
All individuals should have a will. Anyone 18 years or older and “legally competent” may make a will in Maryland. In the context of estate law, “legally competent” means the testator understands what it means to make a will, what property they own, who will have the will, and all the potential claims that relatives and dependents may make to the property.
A valid will should also exist as a hard copy on actual paper, and it must be signed in front of two witnesses, who must, in turn, sign the will in front of the testator. It is not required to notarize a will but doing so may speed up the probate process because a notarized will is “self-proving,” and the court will not need to contact the two witnesses for verification.
Wills may be modified or revoked at any time. To do so, the testator must somehow destroy or tear the document or instruct someone to do so and rewrite a new document. They may also add an amendment (“codicil”) to the end of an existing will if they only seek to make a small change.
What Is a Trust?
A trust is a legal arrangement in which a person (“trustor”) transfers their assets to a third party who is responsible for managing them and distributing them according to the trustor’s wishes. Some trusts may have tax benefits and allow assets to be passed down without involvement from the probate court. Trusts also allow more control over the way assets are distributed. For example, a trustor can establish whether their child will get their inheritance in scheduled payments rather than a lump sum, or whether they will only get their inheritance once they graduate college.
Maryland offers a variety of trusts, depending on a person’s needs and situation:
- Revocable trust – A trust that is created and funded during a trustor’s lifetime. The trustor retains the right to revoke the trust provisions and may also amend the provisions of the trust, fund the trust with additional assets, remove assets, or change who the trustee is.
- Irrevocable trust – A trust that cannot be revoked or changed by the trustor. The trustor has given up all rights of ownership of the property used to fund the trust, and the permanent nature of this type of trust makes it less common to create than a revocable trust.
- Testamentary trust – A trust that is created within a will but that is not funded or effective until the testator’s death.
- Special needs trust – A trust set up for the benefit of a disabled person or child. This provides supplemental funds for a disabled person or child.
- Charitable trusts – A trust where the beneficiary is a charitable organization. This can help implement income or estate tax planning methods.
Schedule a free consultation with The Law Offices of John Umholtz to learn more.
Living wills are a type of advance directive that allows a person to specify their wishes regarding medical treatment if they are to become incapacitated by illness or injury. This is an important tool, as a living will can speak for a person when they become unable to communicate their wishes or make decisions for themselves in critical situations.
Developing a Personalized Legal Solution for Your Needs
Speak to a will and trust lawyer today to determine what documents you need to complete your estate plan. Whether you have questions about your financial assets or medical wishes, we can help you draft the necessary legal documents to safeguard your future. The Law Offices of John Umholtz provide compassionate and client-oriented counsel so you can feel confident and supported as you plan for the future.
I have used attorneys in the past, and John is superior!!
“John Umholtz is the best lawyer I have ever used and met. He listens to your case very well before he gives any advice. He’s extremely intelligent, thorough, and honest. His fees are more than reasonable. I highly recommend John for ANY legal needs whatsoever. I have used attorneys in the past, and John is superior!!”
We would not hesitate to use his services.
“John is a competent attorney with a creative, intelligent legal mind. We would not hesitate to use his services.”