Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts and Probate
If you need an estate plan, will, trust, financial power of attorney, advance medical directive, or assistance with probate matters, we can help you understand the various options available to you, make informed decisions, and take the necessary steps to accomplish your objectives. Based in Hagerstown, Maryland, Kane & Stone provides estate planning, will, trust and probate law services to clients throughout Western Maryland.
Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts
Few tasks in life are more important than ensuring that your important goals are accomplished after you are gone, yet many people are understandably reluctant to plan for that inevitable day. Although it is not easy to confront one’s own mortality or potential incapacity, a good estate plan can help you protect the assets that you have worked so hard to build and ensure that the fruits of your efforts will benefit your family and others you care about when you are no longer there.
Kane & Stone serves client of all ages and circumstances in planning for their futures and ensuring that their important goals are accomplished after they are gone. We take a comprehensive approach to our estate planning, wills and trusts practice, because each client’s circumstances and needs are different. That is why we always take the time to develop a full understanding of your situation and to answer all of your questions, before be recommend any particular approach. In many cases, a simple and inexpensive will be all that is needed. In more complex situations, more sophisticated estate plans, wills and trusts may be desirable. Our approach includes such tools and strategies as:
- Estate planning
- Simple wills
- Wills with trusts and other more advanced provisions
- Financial powers of attorney
- Advance medical directives
- Revocable and irrevocable living trusts
- Life insurance trusts
- Charitable trusts and foundations
At Kane & Stone, we believe that our estate planning, wills and trusts clients should fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches that may be available to them, so that they can make informed and thoughtful decisions concerning their plans for the future. And we strive to develop the approach that best fulfills your needs in a cost-effective manner.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an estate plan?
An estate plan is the set of decisions that you make during your life to protect your assets as much as possible and to ensure, after you are gone, that the fruits of your life’s work will benefit your family and others you care about, in the manner that you wish and with the least possible inconvenience and tax burden. Depending upon your circumstances and objectives, an estate plan may include wills, trusts, lifetime giving programs, and various techniques designed to protect your assets and minimize death taxes. At Kane & Stone, we recognize that each client’s needs and concerns are different, and we avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we take the time to fully understand your particular circumstances, objectives and concerns, answer all of your questions, and advise you about the options that may be available. Then we prepare wills and other necessary estate planning documents designed to accomplish your specific needs, and we help you with any other steps that may be necessary to carry out your estate planning strategy.
Should I establish a living trust now?
Perhaps not. Living trusts may useful in certain limited situations, but many people have been over-sold on their benefits. For example, many people have been mistakenly informed that a revocable living trust will help them avoid death taxes, when that is generally not the case at all. At Kane & Stone, we believe that a full understanding of your circumstances, objectives and needs is the key to employing living trusts and similar tools in an informed and intelligent manner ― and avoiding any unnecessary complication of your present affairs. After we examine your particular situation, we will advise you concerning these and other available options and help you determine what choices are best for you.
Should I have a financial power of attorney or advance medical directive (or consider updating the ones that I already have)?
A financial power of attorney empowers someone whom you designate and trust to handle your business and financial affairs in your name and on your behalf. A financial power of attorney can be particularly useful if and when you are incapable of acting for yourself. An advance medical directive empowers someone whom you designate and trust to make health care decisions on your behalf if and when you are incapable of making those decisions yourself. An advance directive also can express your wishes concerning the nature and degree of medical intervention that will be employed in an end-of-life situation. During the past few years, changes in Maryland law have expanded the options available to you concerning both financial powers of attorney and advance medical directives. Although these changes do not invalidate any power of attorney or living will that you already have, you may find it useful to revisit your past decisions in light present law and in light of your present circumstances and needs. At Kane & Stone, we typically explore these areas whenever a client asks us to prepare a new will, but we can also do so whenever he or she asks.
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Probate and Estate Administration
When someone close to you dies, you may find yourself charged with the responsibility of administering his or her probate estate. Coming on the heels of such a deep personal loss, many people feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having to settle a deceased loved one’s affairs as well. Kane & Stone assists personal representatives carry out their duties and responsibilities of estate administration and successfully address and overcome any legal or other issues that may arise.
We assist personal representatives with all aspects of the probate and estate administration process, including:
- Probate filings
- Compilation and analysis of both probate and non-probate assets
- Marshaling, collection and liquidation of estate assets
- Payment of estate debts and obligations
- Defense of unjustified claims against the estate
- Commencement and prosecution of estate claims against others
- Distribution of estate assets
- Implementation of trusts created by the decedent
At Kane & Stone, we tailor our probate and estate administration services to the size and complexity of the estate and to the needs of our client, and we can provide as much or as little assistance as may be appropriate under the circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I required to have an attorney represent me in administering an estate?
No. In most cases, Maryland law does not require a personal representative to have an attorney. The Register of Wills offices in Western Maryland’s counties have capable staff who stand ready to help you understand your duties as a personal representative and to assist you in preparing and filing the necessary probate forms. But the Register of Wills staff cannot provide legal advice and assistance or carry out tasks that require the services of an attorney. And when the administration of an estate is complicated in nature or disputes arise between interested persons, the services of a probate and estate attorney can become essential. At Kane & Stone, we can review your situation and provide whatever level of services that your circumstances or needs may require.
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