FAQs Archive - Ritter Elder Law & Estate Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? We’re here to help.

Filter by

  • What is a Life Estate Deed Without Powers?

    In Maryland, a life estate deed is a type of legal agreement that allows a person (known as the life tenant) to own and use a property during their lifetime, while also designating one or more other individuals (known as remaindermen) to receive ownership of the property upon the life tenant’s death.

    Under a life estate deed, the life tenant retains the right to use and occupy the property for the rest of their life, but they cannot sell or transfer ownership of the property without the consent of the remaindermen. Once the life tenant passes away, the remaindermen automatically become the owners of the property, without the need for probate.

    Life estate deeds can be used for various purposes, such as to transfer ownership of property to family members while also allowing the original owner to retain use of the property during their lifetime. They can also be used to avoid the costs and delays of probate, as ownership of the property passes directly to the remaindermen upon the life tenant’s death. These types of deeds may also be used in Medicaid planning and asset protection planning.

    To create a life estate deed in Maryland, the property owner must execute and record a deed that designates themselves as the life tenant and one or more individuals or entities as the remaindermen. It’s important to note that once a life estate deed is created, it can be difficult to change or undo, so it’s important to consult with a qualified attorney before proceeding with this type of legal agreement.

    Was this usefull?

  • What is a Last Will and Testament?

    A last will and testament is a legal document that outlines how a person’s assets and property should be distributed after their death. It allows the person creating the will, known as the testator, to name beneficiaries, appoint an personal representative (also known as an executor) to carry out their wishes, and specify how any outstanding debts and taxes should be paid. The will can also be used to name guardians for any minor children and make provisions for their care. A properly executed last will and testament can provide peace of mind and ensure that the testator’s assets are distributed according to their wishes.

    Click here to visit RELEP’s Estate Planning and Probate webpage.

    Was this usefull?

  • What is Estate Planning?

    Estate planning is the process of preparing for the management and distribution of a person’s assets and property after they die, as well as planning for the possibility of incapacity or disability during their lifetime. The primary goal of estate planning is to ensure that a person’s assets and property are distributed according to their wishes, and to minimize the tax implications of those distributions.

    Estate planning typically involves creating a comprehensive estate plan that includes a variety of legal documents, such as a Last Will and Testament, a trust, powers of attorney, and advance directives for healthcare. These documents help to ensure that a person’s wishes are carried out, even if they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on their own.

    Estate planning also involves taking steps to minimize the tax consequences of the transfer of assets and property. This can include strategies such as gifting assets during a person’s lifetime, establishing trusts, and taking advantage of tax exemptions and deductions.

    In addition to the legal documents and tax planning strategies, estate planning also involves reviewing and updating the estate plan regularly to ensure that it reflects any changes in a person’s circumstances, such as the birth of a child, a change in marital status, or the acquisition of new assets or property.

    Overall, estate planning is an important process that can provide peace of mind and ensure that a person’s final wishes are respected and carried out in a legally binding manner. It is recommended to work with a qualified estate planning attorney to create an estate plan that is tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.

    Click here to visit RELEP’s Estate Planning webpage.

    Was this usefull?

  • What does a Financial Power of Attorney do?

    A financial power of attorney is a legal document that grants a person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) the authority to manage the financial affairs of another person (the principal) in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated or unable to manage their financial affairs on their own.

    A financial power of attorney typically grants the agent the authority to perform a wide range of financial tasks on behalf of the principal, including:

    Paying bills and expenses
    Managing bank accounts and investments
    Filing taxes
    Buying or selling real estate or other property
    Applying for government benefits
    Signing contracts and legal documents

    The agent’s authority to act on the principal’s behalf can be limited to specific tasks or can be broad enough to cover all financial matters.

    A financial power of attorney is an important estate planning document that can help to ensure that a person’s financial affairs are managed in the event that they become incapacitated. It is important to choose an agent who is trustworthy and capable of handling financial matters, and to review and update the financial power of attorney regularly to ensure that it reflects any changes in a person’s circumstances or wishes.
    Click here to visit RELEP’s Estate Planning webpage.

    Was this usefull?

  • What does a Health Care Power of Attorney do?

    A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that designates a person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) to make healthcare decisions on behalf of another person (the principal) in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated or unable to make their own healthcare decisions.

    A healthcare power of attorney grants the agent the authority to make decisions related to the principal’s medical treatment, such as:

    Deciding whether to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment
    Choosing healthcare providers and facilities
    Approving or denying medical tests or procedures
    Deciding on the use of pain management

    The agent is responsible for making healthcare decisions in accordance with the principal’s wishes, as expressed in the healthcare power of attorney document or in other advance directives for healthcare.

    The healthcare power of attorney is an important estate planning document that can help ensure that a person’s healthcare wishes are respected and carried out in the event that they become incapacitated. It is important to choose an agent who understands the principal’s wishes and is capable of making difficult medical decisions. It is also important to review and update the healthcare power of attorney regularly to ensure that it reflects any changes in the principal’s circumstances or wishes.
    Click here to go to RELEP’s Estate Planning webpage.

    Was this usefull?

  • What is the Purpose of a Revocable Living Trust?

    The purpose of a revocable living trust is to provide a flexible and effective means of managing and distributing a person’s assets and property during their lifetime and after their death. A revocable living trust is a legal document that allows a person (the grantor or settlor) to transfer their assets into a trust, which is managed by a trustee (who can be the grantor, another individual, or a professional trustee).

    The primary benefits of a revocable living trust include:

    1. Avoiding probate: A revocable living trust can help to avoid probate, which is the legal process of administering a person’s estate after their death. Assets held in a revocable living trust are not subject to probate, which can save time and money.

    2. Providing for incapacity: A revocable living trust can provide for the management of a person’s assets and property in the event that they become incapacitated. The trustee can manage the trust assets on behalf of the grantor, which can help to avoid the need for a court-appointed guardian or conservator.

    3. Flexibility: A revocable living trust is a flexible estate planning tool that can be customized to meet a person’s specific needs and circumstances. The grantor can make changes to the trust during their lifetime, including adding or removing assets and changing the beneficiaries.

    4. Privacy: Unlike a will, which becomes a matter of public record when it is filed with the probate court, a revocable living trust can be kept private.

    Overall, a revocable living trust is a useful estate planning tool that can provide a range of benefits for the grantor and their beneficiaries. It is recommended to work with a qualified estate planning attorney to create a revocable living trust that is tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.

    Click here to visit RELEP’s Estate Planning webpage.

    Was this usefull?

  • What does it Mean to Die Intestate?

    Dying intestate in Maryland means that a person has died without a valid will or other estate planning documents. When a person dies intestate, Maryland’s intestacy laws govern how their assets and property are distributed.

    Under Maryland intestacy law, if a person dies without a will, their assets and property will be distributed to their heirs according to a specific order of priority. The deceased person’s surviving spouse and children are typically the first in line to inherit the estate, with the spouse receiving a portion of the estate and the children receiving the remaining balance. If the deceased person has no surviving spouse or children, their parents, siblings, or more distant relatives may be considered heirs and may be entitled to a share of the estate.

    It is important to note that dying intestate can be a complicated and time-consuming process, and it can result in the distribution of the deceased person’s assets and property in a manner that does not reflect their wishes. To avoid this, it is recommended to create a valid will or other estate planning documents to ensure that your assets and property are distributed according to your wishes. A qualified attorney can provide guidance and assistance with creating a will or other estate planning documents in Maryland.

    Click here to visit RELEP’s Estate Planning and Probate webpage.

    Was this usefull?

  • Does Maryland have an Inheritance Tax?

    Maryland’s collateral inheritance tax is a tax on the transfer of property or assets from a deceased person’s estate to non-lineal heirs or beneficiaries, such as cousins, nieces, nephews, or unrelated individuals. Maryland does not have an inheritance tax on direct lineal descendants (i.e., grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, and siblings). Maryland does have a collateral inheritance tax on non-lineal descendants.

    The collateral inheritance tax rates in Maryland vary depending on the value of the property or assets received which is usually assessed around 10% – 11.1111% depending on the specific circumstances of the matter. The tax is calculated based on the fair market value of the property at the time of the deceased person’s death, and is paid by the recipient of the property or assets.

    It is important to note that there are certain exemptions and deductions that may apply to the collateral inheritance tax in Maryland, such as exemptions for property transferred to charitable organizations, or deductions for debts and expenses related to the transfer of the property.

    It is recommended to consult with a qualified attorney or tax professional to understand the Maryland collateral inheritance tax and the options available for estate planning and asset distribution.

    Click here to visit RELEP’s Estate Planning and Probate webpage.

    Was this usefull?

Сlient Info Sheet

Before we meet, please fill out this form to the best of your ability.  Please bring this form with you to your appointment or send it to us before our videocall.