Wills are documents that every adult in Maryland should have. They can be simple or complex, but they need to meet some basic requirements to be valid. Let’s take a look at what a will does and how to create one.
A will is a written document that specifies how you want certain things handled when you pass away. There are a few different types of wills. The most commonly-prepared types in Maryland include a simple will, a complex will, and a pour-over will.
Sometimes a will is called a last will and testament. This term dates back to ancient real estate and personal property laws that no longer apply, so today, a document called a “will” is the same as one labeled “last will and testament.”
What a Will Does
Most people know that a will can specify who you want to receive your property after your death. However, wills can serve other purposes as well.
In a will, you can nominate a person to follow your instructions and handle your financial affairs after you pass away. You can also nominate guardians to care for your minor children if you pass away before they reach the age of 18. In addition, you can use your will to set up a trust to hold property for them, since minors will not be able to manage an inheritance legally on their own.
The Terminology Used with Wills
When you establish a will for yourself, you are referred to as the testator. The person named to oversee your property after your death is sometimes called the executor and sometimes called the personal representative. In Maryland, these terms mean the same thing.
The term that often confuses people most with regard to wills is “estate.” While many of us think of an estate as a big house in the country, it also refers to property left by someone when they pass away. However, what gets confusing is the fact that not all property goes into the estate. Property that is owned jointly with others goes directly to those others if that ownership was set up with a right of survivorship.
Moreover, property that is an account with a beneficiary clause will go directly to the named beneficiaries and also will not become part of the estate. In addition, property that has been transferred to a trust also does not go into an estate.
Many people work with their attorney to create a plan that allows all of the property to pass without ever forming an estate. They do this because property in the estate will usually need to go through the probate process. That requires court supervision which results in added expense and delays.
Creating a Will
To create a legally valid will in Maryland, you must be at least 18-years-old and of “sound mind.” The terms of the will must be written out, and the document must be signed by the testator and attested to by two credible witnesses.
While it can be easy to create “a” will, creating the right will with the terms you want to accomplish your goals can be more difficult. This is why most people work with an attorney who can ensure that the will is written and executed properly and won’t be susceptible to legal challenges.
The Law Office of Ralph W. Powers, Jr. P.C. Can Prepare the Right Will for Your Needs
To avoid uncertainty and mistakes, it is important to have a valid will tailored to meet your goals and to fit with your other estate planning documents. The team at the Law Office of Ralph W. Powers, Jr. P.C. is ready to assist.
Whether you need a simple will or more complex provisions to protect your family, we can prepare a custom will to ensure your wishes are followed in the future. Contact us today to get started.