Life is precious; which means people should do everything they can to enjoy their lives as well as do everything they can to preserve them. However, no matter how much people do to avoid sickness and risky situations, nobody in Maryland in can avoid death forever. This means it can be important for people to begin estate planning as soon as possible, which can help avoid future problems for heirs, such as having to go to probate court.
When a person dies without an estate plan, they risk the chance of their intended heirs not being able to receive their assets. Without an estate plan, a probate judge will decide how to administer assets included in an individual's estate. This will force heirs to engage in the probate process which can be expensive and can also cause a loss of privacy. Many times, heirs will challenge each other in probate court in order to control one's estate assets.
However, avoiding probate is not the only good reason to begin planning an estate as soon as possible. Lack of a solid estate plan can also expose one's assets to the inheritance tax. Although the inheritance tax is currently set at a relatively high level, this can change at any time in the future when Congress is looking to increase tax revenue for government expenditures. Therefore, it will be necessary to continue to update one's estate plan in order to take into consideration the latest changes in estate tax laws.
If an individual has not begun his or her estate planning, that person may wish to initiate the process right away in order to avoid probate court and tax liabilities in Maryland or in any other state. Also, if a person already has an estate plan in place, he or she should make sure to update it periodically. However, if heirs do find themselves in the middle of a probate court battle, they may seek to obtain knowledge of the applicable laws in order to present a strong legal argument to prove why they should receive their loved ones' assets.
Source: Nevada Business Magazine, A Primer on Estate Planning: Be Prepared, Norman Bell, Dec. 2, 2013