Estate Planning, Probate & Trusts Article Archives
Most Americans do not have a Will. They haven’t prepared a financial Power of Attorney, and they aren’t even sure what an Advance Directive is. If you are among them, then preparing an estate plan should be at the top of your to-do list.
But even if you have an estate plan in place, it may be missing a crucial element-provisions for your digital assets. These include the electronic data stored on your computer or smart phone, your Internet accounts like LinkedIn and Gmail, and your online pictures and documents.
| By Carl E. Eastwick
These days, a revocable inter vivos trust serves as the principal testimony instrument of many estate plans. The settlor of a trust of this sort retains nearly total control of the trust assets by retaining the unfettered power to amend the trust, and by implication also to revoke it. It matters not whether the trustee is the settlor or a third party. Thus, the beneficiaries of the trust possess but a tenuous contingent interest in the trust assets.
In the course of our estate planning work with clients, we will ask who the client wishes to designate as trustee of any trusts we are creating, and as executor (or “personal representative”) of his or her estate. These are the people (or entities) who will take legal title to, and control the property of the trust or estate until it is distributed. They are in a fiduciary capacity, which means that they can be held personally liable if they negligently or intentionally misuse the property entrusted to them.
The Benefits of Marriage
Estate Planning for Maryland’s Same-Sex Couples
The right to marry now extends to more Marylanders than ever before. Under the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which took effect January 1, 2013, same-sex couples can obtain marriage licenses knowing that their unions will be recognized by the state. Federal recognition came some six months later with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor. These are exciting developments for the LGBT community, and couples who choose to marry will now enjoy many important benefits. Among these are the right to file joint tax returns, to receive Social Security and other government benefits, and to obtain health insurance from a spouse’s employer.