Estate Planning Basics
Anthony R. Pisarra, Esq.
Rev: May 2005
This note provides a brief overview of Estate planning in the State of Maryland.
This note is provided for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice.
With research and some attention to detail, an individual can successfully assemble and execute a simple will (see, below A Note On Legal Forms).
However, trusts and estates encompass a highly technical area of law and one in which the courts are ruthless when faced with error.
In addition, beyond simply designated your intended heirs, there are issues in transfering an estate, in particular federal estate taxes and adminstrative costs, which can make consulting a professional a considerable bargain.
Estate Planning, Wills, & Trusts
What is an Estate?
Your "Estate" is the balance of your holdings (assets and liabilities) at the time of your death.
A Note About Legal Forms
Legal forms, traditionally purchased through stationary stores, and now frequently available as word processor templates are mixed bag for estate planning.
While the language and form of these templates is often more than acceptable, errors in completing the formalities of execution is often compeltely fatal a to the pre-printed and/or typed portions of the form.
In the absence of a completely valid will, the court will try and find the next best substitute, however, the substitute must traditionally be handwritten by the deceased.
The court cannot therefore give effect to provisions that are in typeset or computer printed.
As a result you are almost better off writing your will on the back of cocktail napkin (not actually recommended) or at least hand copying the preprinted portions of the form into a new document.