A will is a legal document that outlines what you want to happen to your assets after your death. You don’t necessarily have to pass all of your property on through a will. You could use other estate planning tools, such as trusts, transfer-on-death accounts and transfer-on-death deeds, to avoid probate.
Everything in a will has to go through the probate process. Your beneficiaries won’t receive assets from a will until the end of probate, which can take months to years, depending on the complexity of your estate. Some testators strive to use as many other estate planning strategies as possible to keep their will simple for a faster and less expensive probate process.
You choose an executor for your estate through a will. After your death, the probate court will confirm your will is valid before giving the executor the green light to begin their duties. Executors have to give time for creditors to recover debts, file your tax return and distribute what’s left of the estate.
You may want to choose a backup executor if something happens to your first choice. People could decline the role if they don’t want it, so you might want to check that those you choose are up for the task. Some financial institutions offer estate administration services if you are unable find an individual you trust.
Wills in Maryland are only valid if testators sign them in front of two witnesses. The witnesses have to sign the will too. Maryland only acknowledges printed or handwritten wills.
If you need to edit the will, you must use a codicil document or destroy the old will and create a new one. Editing the existing will without a formal codicil isn’t valid. Your codicil must be signed by yourself and two witnesses.
A will is an essential component of your estate plan because it names your executor and distributes your assets and personal property that you didn’t pass on to a beneficiary through other legal means. You might want to check the current law to ensure that the will you write is valid.