Estate Planning is the process of legally arranging for the orderly disposition (distribution) of your assets to the person or persons of your choice. A well-prepared estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed in the manner you wish, and in the most expeditious and cost-effective way possible.
An estate plan is also a way to pass on intellectual property. This includes your ideas, values, and beliefs. These assets are less tangible. They are often multi-generational in nature, having been carried down through several generations. These ideas may represent the core values that you and your ancestors have long held dear. It is vital to your family heritage that this information be clearly and concisely passed on to future generations in your estate plan.
Estate plans are also for persons who are interested in protecting their loved ones. For example, our estate attorneys can develop a plan that protects against creditors, bad marriages, unwise behaviors, and predators.
Who needs an Estate Plan?
With some rare exceptions, everyone needs an estate plan. We live in the greatest country on earth -- a place where any person may exercise their freedom to choose the kind of life they imagine. Whether your estate is large, small, or average, you have the right to exercise your right of self-determination by planning for the management of your estate during your lifetime.
There are several details to consider in your plan. Incapacity management specifies how your your financial and health care affairs will be managed in the event that you become unable to make decisions for yourself. Tax avoidance or minimization, asset preservation, beneficiary protection, control or modification of beneficiary behavior are also details that may need to be woven into your plan.
Those who engage in a systematic estate planning process are rewarded with peace of mind and the knowledge that they have done everything possible to ensure their wishes are carried out.
By contrast, those who neglect an estate plan put themselves and their families at risk of a variety of negative outcomes. They famously include family disputes and death taxes. They may also include high settlement costs due to unnecessary involvement of courts and attorneys. Another risk is distribution of assets to an unintended individual such as an in-law or special needs child. The devastating reality is that a lack of a formal estate plan can lead to an on-going series of problems that span two or more generations.
How Can an Estate Attorney help?
At Elville & Associates, our estate attorneys in Columbia, Baltimore, Annapolis, Rockville and Fredrick MD advise that clients approach estate planning as a living process. This includes on-going education for the client and their family, where their plan is updated as their family or wishes evolve. This ensures that the estate plan achieves the client's intended goals at death and yields a predictable cost of administration.
With this in mind, we counsel clients on the Elville Legacy System (ELS) ©, a 10-step interactive educational process for optimal estate planning. In addition, we offer a more traditional planning path for those persons whose needs can be meet with a shorter, 3-step planning process.
How Can I Begin My Estate Plan?
Taking the first step in developing an estate plan is easy. Simply call us or send an email message to our office today to receive our Estate Planning Questionnaire and schedule a consultation with one of our estate attorneys. Alternatively, you may reserve your seat at our regularly scheduled Estate Planning Essentials Workshops.