Comprehensive Estate Planning Solutions
Our will and trust practice involves everything from drafting simple wills and revocable trusts to more sophisticated estate planning for very large estates, estate tax valuation reductions and charitable planning. We take the time to understand not only a client’s legal needs, but also his or her personal priorities that affect those needs.
Many people think of an estate plan as little more than a set of legal documents. For our attorneys, nothing could be further from the truth: An estate plan is a representation of someone’s most closely held wishes and priorities, not just for themselves, but also for their loved ones. At The Law Office of DeCaro & Howell, P.C., we represent clients throughout Maryland, Virginia And D.C.
Your Guide To Estate Planning
You deserve a law firm that understands what your family, well-being and property mean to you. At our firm, we offer five combined decades of experience in complex legal matters in an environment where your needs as a client come first, and where we work hard to make your experience with a law firm as positive as the legal advice you receive.
Beginning in a free, confidential consultation, we will discuss the appropriate scope of your estate plan and how to account for the disposition of your property, as well as your preferences for your health, care of children and charitable interests. We provide comprehensive, “package” estate plans that include a combination of any of the following estate planning tools:
- Guardianship for minor children
- Living wills
- Advance health care directives
- Powers of attorney
- Asset protection
Our goal is to give you a comprehensive plan that can provide flexibility for life’s many unexpected events. We often work with clients over the years to revise their estate plans as necessary, ensuring that their plans represent the most current statement of their wishes.
Estate planning, like so much in this modern world, has become more involved than simply designating the people and/or charities to benefit from your estate. Larger estates benefit from planning which minimizes payments of estate taxes. Although the federal estate tax becomes a serious issue only if your estate exceeds $11MM (under current law), state estate and inheritance taxes are still a factor.
The primary goal of an estate plan is, of course, to provide a means of seamlessly transferring property to your heirs. At the minimum, a Will is advisable, especially if you have children, because your children automatically inherit a percentage of your estate (in Maryland, at least half of your estate) unless you provide in your Will that your spouse is to inherit more than the percentage which your children would receive under the statutes. Another advantage of a Will is that it allows you to name people you trust to manage your estate and to take care of any minor children.
Trusts have a number of functions in an estate plan, and they are very flexible. If you have a larger estate, a trust can save estate taxes. A trustee has flexibility to manage and distribute your property, and can help make sure that a disabled beneficiary does not lose their distribution. Assets which are titled in the name of a trust do not go through probate, saving time and possible exposure to the public. The property you leave to your beneficiaries in a properly-drafted trust is protected from their creditors. In special situations, trusts can help you meet your charitable giving goals while avoiding current income tax on asset dispositions.
Our estate planning engagements generally include drafting ancillary documents such as powers of attorney and advance medical directives so that your planning is well-rounded and comprehensive.