The Comprehensive Guide to Create a Last Will and Testament in MarylandYou wouldn't want your loved ones to fight over who gets what from you upon your death, would you? But at the same time, you don't want the state to decide who gets what portion of your estate having worked hard to create that estate, no? It, therefore, only makes sense to create a last will and testament. You could use a free Maryland last will and testament form available online to get started. But, let's make sure we are on the same page before we go deeper into the subject. A last will and testament refers to the legal document you use to decide who will receive which portion of your estate when you die. It is an integral part of estate planning as you also use it to name your personal representative: the individual who will oversee your estate and distribute your property. But, that is not all it does: a last will also lets you assign a guardian to your kids if at the time of your demise they are under 18 years. A guardian will also be essential if you have a special needs dependent. Given the responsibilities carried by the guardian and the executor, we recommend asking for their approval before naming them. In the last will, you, the creator of the document, are referred to as the testator
How different is the last will and testament in Maryland different from the living will?The last will takes effect upon death. However, the living will stays in effect when you are still breathing. Often, the directives of the living will are enforced when the principal (creator) is incapacitated (mentally or physically) and unable to make decisions on their own or when the principal is unavailable.
Elements that make the last will valid
- Your free last will and testament in Maryland is only effective if it meets the provisions provided under code section §4101, et seq. that covers trusts and estates.
- The testator should be mentally sound and aged 18 years or older. The testator should also create the will voluntarily
- The will should be in writing with oral wills deemed invalid. What this means is that the state of Maryland only accepts written wills, including the wholly handwritten or holographic wills. The holographic will should show consistency in the handwriting of the testator from the material of the will, the signature, and the date.
- 2 Witnesses must sign the will. However, witnesses are not required when preparing holographic wills. The witnesses sign the will after the testator signs it.
The use of wills to create trustsTrusts created alongside wills are testamentary trusts. Testamentary trusts provide for the distribution of all or part of the deceased estate, as well as the proceeds of life insurance to the person named on the trust. One will may have more than one trust. In most cases, the testamentary trusts are for young kids or loved ones with disabilities, and any other persons who inherit large sums of money after the testator dies. When creating the trust, you are the settler, and you are required to appoint a trustee to manage the funds put in the trust for a specific duration of time when the beneficiary will have access to the funds. Besides kids, you could create a testamentary trust for a pet - the pet trust.
Property exempted from distribution
- Joint tenancy properties with survivorship rights
- Any property owned in full as tenants
- Proceeds from retirement accounts and life insurance policies
- Any assets in revocable living trusts
The process of changing willsYou may change your will at any time using a codicil to be executed in the same manner as the older will.
The process of revoking a last willYou could revoke the powers of a will by executing a new will. Alternatively, you may obliterate, tear, burn, or cancel the will, as long as you intend to revoke it. The latter could be done by the testator or someone acting under the directions of the testator and in their presence.
What happens if you don't create a will?
- The state invokes intestacy laws. Intestacy laws are the laws governing asset distribution in Maryland when someone dies without a written will. Under the laws, the following could happen:
- A spouse could inherit the whole estate unless you have minor kids, and if such an event occurs, the estate is split in half between the two parties.
- With that said, you should know that if your kids are adults by the time you die, your spouse gets $15,000 on top of the half of the estate and kids get the remainder.
- However, if you do not have kids but are survived by a spouse, your parents get a part of your estate.
- If you do not have surviving kids, a spouse, or parents, your other relatives, siblings or grandparents will inherit your estate.