Estate planning needs for non-traditional families in Maryland
It is important for Maryland families to set up estate plans, particularly when current laws do not automatically protect the people closest to them. A lawyer can help.
September 01, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Estate planning needs for non-traditional families in Maryland
Article provided by Merrill, Cruttenden & Collinson, P.A.
Visit us at http://www.merrillaw.com
It seems there are few "traditional" families in America any longer. The U.S. Census Bureau released data a couple years ago revealing that married couples with children make up less than 50 percent of all U.S. families. The definition of family continues to evolve as Americans redefine who their families are.
Unfortunately, most states do not have adequate laws that automatically protect the estate planning needs of so-called non-traditional families, such as:
-Blended families with step-children and step-parents.
-Extended family members raising grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
-Adult children caring for aging parents.
Maryland intestacy laws -- legal rules that govern how a person's assets are divided should he or she die without a will -- may dictate that your home, bank accounts, personal belongings and other assets go to blood relatives and not to those whom you consider your closest family members.
Important steps to take
No matter what type of family arrangement you are in, it is vital to have an estate plan in place that will provide for the needs of your surviving family and other important people and entities in your life.
-Wills: Every person needs a will, regardless of his or her financial or family situation. Without a will, a domestic or same-sex partner or a non-blood related child might not be entitled to assets from your estate essential to their financial survival. You may also designate the guardian for minor children in a will.
-Trusts: Trusts allow you to transfer assets and wealth to people of your choosing in an easy and inexpensive way outside of the probate process. You may also tailor a trust to support minor children, adults with special needs or your favorite charities.
-Powers of attorney: A power of attorney or health care directive allows you to designate who will handle your financial or health care decisions in the event you are unable to do so.
There are many options and preparations that can be made to allow you to securely leave a legacy for your family. The above are only a few examples of what an estate planning professional may offer for your specific circumstances.
Once you have an estate plan established, it is important to update your estate planning documents on a regular basis. Your family may expand with the birth of a child or grandchild or shrink due to death, divorce or erosion of a once-significant relationship. Additionally, laws governing succession and rights of heirs may change, necessitating revisions of your end-of-life plans.
If you do not have an estate plan -- or have not recently reviewed your will and other important documents -- consult an experienced estate planning attorney. A lawyer knowledgeable about tax planning, probate and succession planning can help you and your loved ones.
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