Estate planning experts advise Maryland residents to make their wishes clear to friends and family regarding what to do if they are rendered incapable of caring for themselves before their death. They recommend going about this by creating and maintaining estate planning documents. Some people assume that estate administration only deals with how to distribute an individual's assets when they die, but that is only one of the issues that it addresses. These documents can leave a road map for someone's heirs to navigate through after they die, or it can appoint trusted individuals to handle finances and medical decisions.
Estate planning can be as simple or complex as someone's needs and individual situation. While one person can get by on a will and incapacity documents, others may wish to set up trusts or powers of attorney. The most important part is establishing these documents and keeping them updated. People should also be sure to keep a copy of these documents on hand, and they should let trusted individuals know where they are located. Establishing these documents will not be helpful if no one can find them.
Since several documents may be involved, it is a good idea to ensure that they work together. If someone leaves assets in a will to an individual, it can create problems if a trust identifies another recipient. People should also be aware that beneficiary designations override a will. If an ex-spouse is named as a beneficiary of a retirement account, no matter what their will says, their ex-spouse will receive the funds.
Understanding estate planning documents is important to setting them up correctly. A lawyer could explain to someone what these documents can and cannot do and draw them up for an individual as well.