There are a host of matters that require attention after the death of a family member. The deceased person’s will must be probated. The personal representative of the estate must identify and value the assets of the estate and evaluate claims of creditors. A trust may need to be administered or wound up. There may be claims for life insurance or retirement benefits.
Our experienced attorneys, along with our seven probate paralegals, handle all aspects of estate administration, including the preparation of estate tax returns and, when necessary, estate tax audits. We work closely with our clients’ accountants to coordinate the preparation of all required income tax returns.
We know that the period just after a family member’s death can be stressful. Many people find the process daunting. We explain and coordinate the process and we keep our clients informed about what the next step is going to be, each step of the way. We assist the fiduciary to carry out his or her obligations, advising as to the legal requirements for administering the estate or trust. Our services include advising fiduciaries about their legal obligations regarding managing an estate’s assets and paying its creditors.
If you are in need of our estate or trust administration services we invite you to call for an appointment. We ask our new estate administration clients to complete an estate administration information form in advance of our initial meeting. This checklist is recommended for the person — whether a family member, an advisor, or friend — who will be handling the administrative tasks of the decedent’s estate. Not all of the items on the list will be readily available at the time of our first meeting and some items may not be applicable to your matter. We ask that you bring what you can to the initial meeting.
For a long time, the rule in Maryland has been that a divorce revokes the provisions of a will that benefit the former spouse, but we did not have the same rule for revocable trusts. Beginning October 1, 2016, the same rule will apply to revocable trusts—divorce will revoke those provisions of the trust that benefit the former spouse.
The Maryland Trust Act will, beginning October 1, 2016, include language allowing interested persons to enter into a binding, non-judicial settlement agreement with respect to trust matters. This means that, without having to go to court, the trustee and beneficiaries of a trust can get together and agree to resolve trust-related issues that they would previously have had to resolve in a court proceeding. This should… MORE >
This article was originally published in the American Bar Association’s Family Advocate, Vol. 38, No. 2, (Fall 2015) p. 10-13, and is reprinted here with permission. PDF available here.
Adequate financial disclosure is essential to a valid and enforceable premarital agreement. When one party is the beneficiary of a third-party trust or the settlor of his or her own trust, the existence, key terms, and value of trust assets will necessarily figure into that disclosure. Even if a trust does not already exist, the parties may wish to incorporate one or more trusts into their premarital agreement terms.
Disclosure of existing trusts
The proponent of a premarital agreement will achieve maximum protection of property rights if financial disclosure is substantial, accurate, and meaningful—in other words, if it exceeds the minimum… MORE >
The new Maryland Trust Act takes effect January 1, 2015 and will apply to all Maryland trusts, including those created prior to its effective date. For the most part, the Act provides default rules that can be overridden by the express terms of a trust, but some rules are mandatory. The following is brief summary of the highlights of the new Act:
Duty to Inform & Report. Within 60 days of accepting trusteeship (after January 1, 2015), a trustee must notify all qualified beneficiaries of the trustee’s acceptance of the trust and of the trustee’s name, address and telephone number. When a new irrevocable trust is created (or a formerly revocable trust becomes irrevocable) on or after January 1, 2015, the trustee must notify all… MORE >
Maryland estate tax bill (HB 739 / SB 602) has passed both houses in the Maryland General Assembly (the House on March 7 and the Senate on March 20). Unless vetoed by the Governor, the new law will raise the Maryland estate tax threshold from its current $1 million to $1.5 million for those dying in 2015, $2 million for those dying in 2016, $3 million for those dying in 2017, and $4 million for those dying in 2018. In 2019 and later years, the Maryland estate tax exemption would be tied (“re-coupled”) with the federal estate tax exemption. The federal exemption is currently $5.34 million but is indexed for inflation and projected to be $5.9 million by 2019.
When the Maryland and federal exemptions… MORE >
A question commonly raised by clients during the estate planning process is: “What can we do to ensure that the assets we give to our children will not be available to the child’s spouse at divorce?” (One answer is for the adult child to have a premarital agreement. See “Premarital Agreements and the Young Couple” in the October 2006 issue of the Pasternak & Fidis Reporter.) This question actually comprises two separate issues. The first is whether a judge can give assets received by one spouse by gift or inheritance to the other spouse as part of the equitable division of marital assets. The second is the effect of these assets on an alimony claim of either party. (There is a third question, the effect… MORE >