The Boston Marathon tragedy serves as a reminder that while we can’t control our destiny, we can take steps to prepare ourselves and loved ones for the worst.

Advance directives provide us with an opportunity to state our preferences for health care decisions in the event of our incapacity or pending death. It is a good idea to keep your Maryland Last Will and Testament, Living Trust, and Health Care Directive up to date.

The importance of a Last Will and Testament

  • Choice of heirs. Preparing a Last Will and Testament or Living Trust ensures that your property passes to your intended beneficiaries.  Without a will, the Maryland laws of intestate succession dictate who inherits the property titled in your name alone.
  • Choice of fiduciaries. You can decide who is in charge of handling the distribution of your assets, rather than leaving these decisions to Maryland law.
  • Disputes among heirs. You can decide how and where you want your remains to be put to rest and choose who serves as your executor (the person who ensures that your wishes are carried out). Planning ahead reduces disputes among heirs and allows for less stress during traumatic times.
  • Guardians for your minor children. You may appoint guardians to care for your minor children in your stead, rather than relatives making claims for custody and control of children’s finances.

The benefits of preparing an Advance Directive for Health Care Decisions

  • Choice of life-sustaining medical procedures. Preparing an Advanced Directive for health care decisions (also known as a living will) allows you to share your decisions about ending or prolonging your life in different situations.
  • Appoint a representative. This valuable document indicates your preference as to who has the power to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

Estate planning, while not pleasant to think about, is a necessary part of protecting your family. Everyone, even young people, should prepare these documents.  Carroll County wills, estates, trusts and elder law attorneys at the law firm of Hoffman, Comfort, Offutt, Scott & Halstad, LLP have years of experience and are ready to guide you through your planning process.

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