FAQs Archive - Ritter Elder Law & Estate Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What is a Joint Tenancy?

    In Maryland, a buy-sell agreement is a legal contract between co-owners of a business or property that outlines the terms and conditions under which one owner may sell their share to the other owner(s).

    Buy-sell agreements are often used to provide a framework for the transfer of ownership in the event of certain triggering events, such as the death, disability, retirement, or voluntary departure of one of the owners. The agreement can also include provisions for the sale of an owner’s share if they default on a loan or violate certain terms of the agreement.

    The buy-sell agreement can specify the price at which the owner’s share will be sold, as well as the terms of payment and any other conditions that must be met before the sale can be completed. It can also address issues such as how the business will be valued, who will be responsible for managing the business, and how disputes will be resolved.

    A buy-sell agreement can be an important tool for protecting the interests of all co-owners and ensuring that the business or property continues to operate smoothly in the event of unexpected events. It’s important to work with a qualified attorney to draft a buy-sell agreement that meets the specific needs of the co-owners and complies with Maryland law.

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  • What is Elder Law?

    Elder law refers to a specialized area of legal practice that focuses on issues that affect older adults and their families. It covers a range of legal topics, including estate planning, long-term care planning, guardianship, healthcare decision-making, and financial exploitation prevention.

    Elder law attorneys typically work with older adults, their families, and caregivers to provide legal advice and representation on a variety of issues related to aging. They may help clients create wills and trusts, establish powers of attorney and advance directives for healthcare, navigate the complex healthcare system, and protect their assets from financial exploitation.

    Elder law also encompasses a range of issues related to elder abuse and neglect. Elder law attorneys may represent older adults who have been victims of physical, emotional, or financial abuse or neglect, and they may help clients take legal action against perpetrators of elder abuse.

    Overall, elder law is an important and growing field of legal practice that helps older adults and their families navigate the complex legal issues that can arise as they age.

    Click to visit RELEP’s Elder Law and Medicaid webpage.

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  • What is a Legatee?

    In Maryland, a legatee is a person or entity named in a will to receive a specific gift or bequest from the deceased person’s estate. Unlike an heir, who is entitled to a share of the estate when the deceased person dies without a valid will, a legatee only receives the specific property or asset that was bequeathed to them in the deceased person’s will.

    For example, if a deceased person’s will specifies that their antique furniture collection should be given to their friend John, then John is considered a legatee and is entitled to receive the antique furniture collection, while the rest of the estate will be distributed according to the terms of the will or Maryland intestacy laws.

    It is important to note that the rules governing inheritance, wills, and trusts in Maryland can be complex, and they may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the deceased person’s estate. It is recommended to consult with a qualified attorney to understand the laws and rules related to inheritance and estate planning in Maryland.

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

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  • What is a Tenancy by the Entirety?

    In Maryland, a tenancy by the entirety is a type of joint ownership arrangement between spouses that provides additional legal protection to their shared property. It is only available to married couples and is similar to joint tenancy, but with some important differences.

    Under a tenancy by the entirety, the property is owned equally by both spouses, and neither spouse can sell, transfer, or encumber their interest in the property without the other spouse’s consent. This means that if one spouse incurs a debt or a legal judgment against them, the creditor cannot force the sale of the property to satisfy the debt or judgment. Additionally, if one spouse dies, their share of the property passes automatically to the surviving spouse without the need for probate.

    Tenancy by the entirety is recognized in Maryland as a form of joint ownership of real property and is only available to married couples. It can be created by including specific language in the deed that indicates the property is being conveyed to the couple as tenants by the entirety.

    It’s important to note that while tenancy by the entirety offers legal protection to the shared property, it may not be the best option for everyone. It’s always a good idea to consult with a qualified attorney to determine the best way to own property in your specific situation.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Do I need to have a Contract to Sell Real Estate in Maryland?

    Yes, in Maryland, a contract is typically required to sell property. A contract is a legally binding agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale, including the purchase price, the closing date, and any contingencies or conditions that must be met before the sale can be finalized.

    The contract is usually prepared by a real estate agent or an attorney and must be signed by both the buyer and the seller. Once the contract is signed, it becomes a legally binding agreement, and both parties are required to comply with its terms.

    In addition to the contract, there are several other documents and steps that are typically required to sell property in Maryland. These may include a property disclosure statement, a title search and title insurance, a deed, and various other legal documents.

    It’s important to work with a qualified real estate professional or attorney who is familiar with Maryland’s real estate laws and regulations to ensure that all necessary documents and steps are completed correctly and on time. This can help ensure a smooth and successful sale of the property.

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