This is Part 3 in our series on the probate process in Maryland. Welcome! If you missed our first two parts, be sure to check out our Index to all of the posts in this series. The Gormley Law Office is pleased to present this information. If you need assistance with a probate matter, or establishing an estate plan, give us a call at 1.240.514.2358 today!
Despite what you might have seen on TV or in movies about a dramatic “reading of the will” after someone dies, you might be surprised to learn that a will only governs probate assets.
Probate assets are assets held in the decedent’s name alone or as tenants in common. A lot of people want to avoid or minimize the probate process for various reasons, so they establish an estate plan before they die, which transfers assets into a trust. There are different types of trusts depending on your goals, but they all are used to transfer assets out of the person’s name, so that after death, they aren’t subject to the probate process.
There are many reasons people and families want to avoid probate. It can be expensive, to avoid publicity, to protect minors with an interest in a decedent’s estate, and many other reasons.
In estate planning, we usually use a will to distribute things that aren’t assets and don’t have much value, such as personal effects, clothing, household items or anything that isn’t owned by a trust. The value of that property is low, which can help families avoid probate or eliminate it entirely since anything of value is transferred into a trust before death.
However, the Will is still an important part of an estate plan. If you don’t have a trust and don’t have a lot of assets, it is still helpful for distributing personal effects and making your wishes clear after your death. We recommend a will even if you don’t have a lot of assets.
We hope this post furthered your understanding of Wills in an estate plan! If you need a will, trust, estate plan, or need help with any other type of probate matter, contact us today!