Five Fundamental Estate Planning Documents

Regardless of an individual’s age, financial status, or family situation, below I will discuss what I believe to be the five fundamental documents that provide a strong foundation to any estate plan. 1. Testamentary Document The cornerstone of any estate plan is the testamentary document. In a testamentary document, you specify your wishes for what…

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The Probate Process: Appeals, Transmission of Issues and Jury Trials

Appeals of Orphans’ Court Decisions In most venues throughout Maryland, a party in an estate looking to appeal a decision made by an Orphans’ Court has two options: file an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals or to the Circuit Court. Pursuant to Courts & Judicial Proceedings §12-501, a party in any venue may…

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The Probate Process: Navigating Claims Against an Estate

After a person passes away, anyone who believes the decedent owed them money or property at the time of the decedent’s death may file a claim against the estate. Claims against an estate can include a wide range of debts, including but not limited to mortgages, credit card debts, loans, unpaid wages, medical bills, and…

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Maryland’s New Elective Share Law

By Zachary W. Worshtil On October 1, 2020, Maryland is set to join the growing ranks of states to integrate non-probate assets and arrangements in its law regulating spousal inheritance. On that date, Chapter 435 of the Acts of 2019, “Estates and Trusts – Elective Share of Surviving Spouse,” takes effect. This new elective share…

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Legislative Update: New Estates & Trusts Laws

Last month, I examined the new Maryland SAFE Act recently passed by the Maryland legislature and set to go into effect on October 1, 2021. Along with the SAFE Act, there are three additional new Maryland laws in the Estates & Trust/elder law realm worth being familiar with: (1) remote witnessing of estate planning documents,…

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The New Maryland SAFE Act

While other higher-profile bills approved by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2021 session garnered more attention, the recently passed Senate Bill 327 – Civil Actions – Financial Exploitation of Susceptible Adults and Older Adults (Maryland SAFE Act) will be a significant new tool in the fight against financial abuse against susceptible and older adults.…

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Basics of Adult Guardianships

Recently, two sensationalized accounts of guardianship matters have put a national spotlight on adult guardianships. First is the Netflix film “I Care a Lot.” This movie features Marla Grayson (played by Rosamund Pike), a crooked, court-appointed legal guardian that defrauds dozens of elderly wards in Massachusetts and traps them under her care. The second high-profile…

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Larry King Estate Turmoil

Shortly after Larry King passed away on January 23, 2021 at age 87, it was widely reported that the prominent television and radio host merely had a simple, handwritten will executed in the months before his death. At the time, many were shocked as this appeared to be his entire estate plan. After all, with…

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How to Remove a Personal Representative

Last month, I discussed common mistakes made during pre-death estate planning and how they can negatively affect estate administration posthumously. Often these avoidable mistakes lead to unnecessary, contentious and costly litigation. Beginning this month and in future articles, I plan on covering some of the most common probate litigation matters. A situation that often arises…

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Ten Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Whether it involves a complex trust or a basic Will, the process of deciding on an estate plan is often an emotional one. When we as attorneys assist a client with an estate plan, our goal is to provide the client with not only security and peace of mind, but also a plan that protects…

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