Annapolis, Maryland Trust and Estate Administration Attorney
When you plan your estate, you are expressing your final wishes concerning how you want your assets to be distributed after you are gone. While you might think this will make things exponentially easier for your loved ones following your death, trust and estate administration in Maryland can be a seriously complex and intricate process, often requiring the deep knowledge, skill, and legal resources of an experienced attorney.
At The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown, estate planning and administration are our areas of expertise. We proudly partner with families and individuals in Annapolis, MD and the surrounding areas, providing essential services when it comes to creating wills, trusts, and other important legal documents as well as helping streamline the management and distribution of assets following the passing of a loved one. This includes guiding families through the probate process, offering informed advice, helping settle debts and taxes, addressing potential legal challenges that may arise, and overall ensuring the security of the estate throughout the distribution process.
What is Estate Administration?
Estate administration is the legal process of managing and distributing a deceased individual’s assets and affairs according to their will. Typically, estate administration is overseen by an executor or personal representative (or, in the case of trusts, a trustee) appointed by the deceased. If the deceased did not leave behind a will, the assets and affairs will be distributed according to the state’s probate laws and overseen by the court.
What is the Difference Between Estate Planning and Estate Administration?
Estate planning and estate administration refer to two different stages of handling an individual’s property before and after their passing.
Estate planning is the process of creating a plan to manage and distribute a person’s property following their death or incapacitation. This involves tasks like drafting wills, establishing trusts, setting up healthcare directives, and designating beneficiaries. Overall, the goal of estate planning is to ensure that the individual’s wishes are carried out as they intended while also minimizing potential taxes and protecting assets.
Estate administration, on the other hand, occurs after the individual’s death. This is the actual implementation of the estate plan they create prior to their passing. In other words, it is the legal process of distributing the deceased’s assets to designated beneficiaries and heirs. Estate administration typically includes probate proceedings, asset valuation, paying off debts and taxes, settling disputes, and transferring property titles to beneficiaries.
Unlike estate planning, which is proactive and focuses on creating a plan, estate administration is reactive and involves executing the plan according to legal requirements and the deceased’s wishes.
Living Trusts and Probate
During probate, creditors are given a chance to seek payment and the court examines the will to make sure that it is valid. While necessary, probate can be problematic for the rightful heirs to estates. The waiting game that’s involved is one major drawback. Probate typically takes a minimum of nine months, and no inheritances can be distributed during this time. What’s more, several expenses can pile up during the process. Plus, the general public can access probate records. This means anyone interested can find out the details, and this loss of privacy is not very appealing to most people.
A living trust can be the ideal alternative to a last will for many different reasons. One of them is the simple fact that assets in the trust can be distributed to the beneficiaries outside of probate.
If you establish a revocable living trust, you will act as the trustee while you are alive and well. In the trust agreement, you would name a successor trustee to take over after you pass away, and your heirs would be the beneficiaries.
Since the trust would own all or most of the estate’s assets, the administration process would be streamlined for the trustee. You could also include a pour-over will that would allow the trust to become the owner of assets in your direct possession at the time of your death.
When the time comes and your family requires trust administration assistance, the team here at The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown can help. We will advise trustees about the legal steps that must be taken to administer the trust and estate properly and subsequently guide them through it.
Keep in mind, a living trust is just one of many different types of trusts used in the field of estate planning. If you use a different trust, such as a special needs trust, charitable trust, or any other type of trust, we can provide the same level of assistance when it is being administered.
How a Trust and Estate Administration Attorney in Maryland Can Help
Equipping the services of a skilled attorney with common sense in all aspects of estate planning and administration can be crucial for families dealing with the aftermath of their loved one’s death. It can provide them with the peace of mind and confidence that comes with knowing their loved one’s final wishes will be carried out in the way they intended.
A qualified attorney like those at The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown can help with many different aspects of the estate administration process. However, two of the main areas in which they can provide their guidance and expertise include guiding executors through the probate process and serving as a buffer during potential disputes regarding the deceased’s estate.
Guiding Executors Through Probate
If you use a Last Will as the centerpiece of your estate plan, you will name an executor in the document. This is the person that would take care of the hands-on administration tasks after you pass away. Unless it is a very small estate, the Will would be admitted to probate, and the Surrogate’s Court would supervise during the administration process. Final debts would be paid, and the executor would identify the assets and prepare them for eventual distribution to the heirs.
Because of the nature of the job, it is essential to pick an executor that can handle these financial-related tasks. You should also consider the person’s age that you name as the executor, and of course, you should make sure they are willing to take on the task.
Most executors do not have any experience working with the Surrogate’s Court, which can prove to be extremely overwhelming.
To ensure that everything goes smoothly, consider arranging for our law firm to help your executor when the time comes. Especially if we work with you to establish the plan, we will be in an ideal position to guide the executor through the process.
Serving as a Buffer During Disputes
Despite people’s best intentions, families often fight when someone dies. Probate and related proceedings often end up in disputes, including contests of wills and trusts, construction (interpretation) of wills and trusts, disputed ownership, claims for debts or services rendered, division of personal property, proceedings to retrieve assets from individuals who received them improperly, and so on and so forth.
In those instances where family members don’t all get along, our Maryland trust and estate litigation team can act as a buffer. If a contest arises, we will work to settle it to our clients’ satisfaction.
Call Our Maryland Estate Administration Attorneys Today!
If you made it this far, we’d say it’s fair to assume that you are interested in putting an estate plan in place and/or ensuring the smooth distribution of assets after your passing. As they say, there is no time like the present! The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones in this situation is to seek the help of a reputable Maryland estate planning law firm.
At The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown, we focus our practice entirely on estate planning and administration. We have served the Annapolis community for years, providing essential services like Will creation, Medicaid planning, trust funding, and more. Our estate planning team know that it is difficult to discuss these personal matters with someone you have just met, which is why we take our relationships with our clients to heart. Our ultimate goal is to bring you comfort and peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be protected at all costs. Rest assured, when you establish an attorney-client relationship with a lawyer from our firm, you will receive personalized attention from someone that truly cares and intends to preserve your legacy, no matter what it takes.
So, whether you are single or divorced, young or old, a business owner, in the military, have a large and complex estate or have a small estate, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced attorney from our firm to explore your legal options. If you are ready to set the wheels in motion, give us a call at (443) 554-9944 or contact us online today.