As you may know, there is far more to estate planning than just saying who gets what after you pass away. With that in mind, Maryland residents may want to consider four basic yet extremely helpful documents that will clarify your wishes and simplify matters for family members.
Of course, the foundation of any comprehensive estate plan is a will. Drafting an effective will directs where you want your assets to go and reduces the potential for probate headaches for your loved ones. With a will, you name an executor to manage your estate, generally with a view toward avoiding future probate problems.
Next, it's a good idea to use a health care power of attorneyto name someone to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. This person should be able to make critical decisions under stress and should know your wishes about medical care.
Along those same lines, drafting an advanced health care directive, which is often called a living will, makes your wishes known about what end-of-life care you want to accept and what care you want to decline.
The fourth item in this brief list is a durable power of attorney. This is the form that appoints someone to oversee your financial affairs if you are unable to tend to them on your own. The person you appoint as your attorney-in-fact should be a good money manager since that person could be responsible for paying your bills, managing your investments and handling anything that has to do with your finances.
In addition, any estate planning documents you create should be evaluated periodically to ensure they are up to date with your life and any changes that may have occurred. You can speak with an estate planning attorney about the full range of options for preserving assets for you and your loved ones.