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Why Estate Planning Is Important

Law Offices of Julie A. Schejbal, CHTD July 5, 2024

Old couples consulting with attorney for preparing estate planEstate planning isn't just for the wealthy or the elderly—it's for everyone. Whether you're just starting out in your career, building a family, or enjoying your retirement, estate planning is very important.  

But why exactly is it so important? Let's explore the key reasons everyone should consider creating an estate plan. 

The Importance of Estate Planning

Estate planning is all about preparing for the management and distribution of your estate after your death. The process involves drafting legal documents such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney so that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of. 

Here are some of the benefits of estate planning: 

Protecting Your Loved Ones

One of the main reasons to create an estate plan is to protect your loved ones. Without a plan, your assets could be tied up in a lengthy probate process, causing stress and financial strain on your family. An estate plan can streamline this process, making it easier for your loved ones to access your assets. 

Avoid Family Conflicts 

Family disputes over inheritance can be devastating. Clear instructions in your estate plan can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. By specifying who gets what, you can ensure that your family remains harmonious even after you're gone. 

Ensure Guardianship for Minor Children 

If you have minor children, an estate plan allows you to name guardians for them. Without this designation, the courts will decide who takes care of your children, which may not align with your wishes.  

Minimize Taxes and Expenses

Estate planning can also help minimize the taxes and expenses your estate will incur. Strategies like setting up trusts can reduce the taxable value of your estate. This means more of your assets go to your beneficiaries rather than to taxes and fees. 

Understand Estate Taxes 

Estate taxes can take a significant portion of your assets. By planning ahead, you can use various legal strategies to minimize these taxes. This ensures that more of your wealth is passed on to your heirs. 

Reduce Probate Costs 

Probate can be expensive and time-consuming. An estate plan can help reduce the costs associated with probate by outlining clear directives for asset distribution. This can save your loved ones both time and money. 

Plan for Healthcare Costs 

Healthcare costs can deplete your estate quickly. Long-term care insurance and other healthcare planning tools can be part of your estate plan, ensuring that your medical needs are covered without draining your assets. 

Control Over Your Assets

An estate plan gives you control over how your assets are managed and distributed. You can specify who receives what and when they receive it. This control extends to your digital assets, business interests, and personal property. 

Include Digital Assets 

In today's digital age, it's important to include your digital assets in your estate plan. This includes everything from social media accounts to online banking information. Designating someone to manage these assets can prevent confusion and ensure they are handled according to your wishes. 

Protect Business Interests 

If you own a business, an estate plan can outline what happens to it after your death. This can include designating a successor, selling the business, or transferring ownership to a family member. This ensures that your business continues to operate smoothly. 

Manage Personal Property 

Personal property, such as jewelry, artwork, and collectibles, can be included in your estate plan. By specifying who receives these items, you can prevent disputes and ensure they are passed on to the right people. 

Estate Planning Laws in Maryland

Estate planning can be complex, given that laws can vary by state. In Maryland, there are unique considerations to keep in mind to ensure your estate plan is legally sound. 

Probate Process 

The probate process can be lengthy and costly in Maryland. A detailed estate plan, which includes appointing a personal representative and outlining clear directives for asset distribution, can simplify this process for your loved ones.  

Estate Tax 

Maryland has its own estate tax separate from the federal estate tax. Understanding the thresholds and exemptions can help minimize the tax burden on your estate through trusts and tax-saving strategies. 

Legal Documents 

Certain legal documents are essential for a comprehensive estate plan in Maryland. These include a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, and Advance Directive for Healthcare. An experienced estate lawyer can ensure that these documents meet all legal requirements. 

Build Your Future, Your Way

Julie A. Schejbal is an experienced estate lawyer who provides high-quality legal services in Dunkirk, Maryland, throughout Calvert County, Prince George’s County, Charles County, and St. Mary's County.  

During a 25-year legal career, she has worked on the IRS legal team, handling the financial aspects of estates, particularly tax laws related to liquid and non-liquid assets. She ensures that her clients fully understand all aspects of estate law that apply to their individual cases. 

Contact the Law Offices of Julie A. Schejbal, CHTD, to begin your estate planning and secure peace of mind for you and your loved ones.