Law Offices of Terri D. Mason, P.C.

Estate Planning Travel Checklist

young couple got help with mortgage interest, signed contract for a long-term housingTraveling should be a time of enjoyment and relaxation. However, unexpected accidents and emergencies can mar a well-planned vacation. To ensure your peace of mind and safeguard your legacy while you’re away, having a solid estate plan in place is a non-negotiable.  Here’s a comprehensive travel checklist to make sure your estate affairs are in order.

Important Estate Planning Documents

The core of estate planning lies in a few key documents. Understanding what they are and how they work is the first step toward establishing a solid plan that brings both you and your loved ones peace of mind.

Don’t just have these documents in place; make sure your family or an authorized person knows where to access them.

What You Should Do Before Traveling

Preparing for a trip extends beyond packing your suitcase. Taking care of important matters before you depart will save you from potential headaches and ensure you can fully enjoy your adventures.

Review and Update Beneficiaries

Insurance policies, investment accounts, and retirement plans often have designated beneficiaries. Ensure these are up-to-date. Life changes, like marriage, divorce, or family dynamics, might require you to adjust beneficiaries accordingly.

Guardianship Arrangements

Should you be traveling with minor children, it’s vital to set up temporary guardianship in the event of an unforeseen incident. This gives a trusted person the right to make decisions regarding the well-being of your children while you are unable to do so.

Organize and Protect Your Documents

Leaving your affairs in order before you travel will save heartache in an already difficult situation. Here are some key things to do:

Consult an Estate Planning Attorney in Baltimore

Complex estate planning decisions or international travel can present unforeseen challenges. In these cases, partnering with a qualified estate planning lawyer will bring peace of mind. They can provide the right guidance tailored to your unique circumstances.

At the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason, we understand the importance of safeguarding your legacy and protecting your loved ones. Our experienced trust and will attorneys will help you navigate all aspects of estate planning, ensuring your affairs are in order whether you are at home or abroad.  Visit us for a consultation and let us be a part of your peace of mind before your next journey.

protecting your savingsOscar Wilde’s celebrated play, “The Importance of Being Earnest,”  is a witty comedy of mistaken identities and societal expectations. While estate planning might lack the play’s humor, it echoes the importance of careful planning and meticulous execution. An artfully crafted estate plan, especially regarding trusts, protects your wishes and ensures a smooth transition of assets to your loved ones.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal entity that holds your assets (property, investments, etc.). A trustee, whom you appoint, manages the trust according to your instructions for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. Trusts offer advantages like avoiding probate (the court-supervised asset distribution process) and ensuring privacy.

The Pitfalls of an Unfunded Trust

Much like the fictional character of ‘Bunbury’ in Wilde’s play, an unfunded trust is a mere concept.  Despite good intentions, creating a trust without transferring assets into it renders it ineffective. Here’s why proper funding matters:

Failing to fund your trust can have unintended consequences, frustrating your efforts to protect and distribute your assets. It could undermine well-laid plans and lead to delays, extra costs, and even potential family discord.

Let Us Help You

Establishing and adequately funding a trust requires careful consideration alongside other estate planning tools. An experienced estate planning attorney in Maryland can guide you through the process, ensuring your wishes are documented and implemented effectively.

The Law Offices of Terri D. Mason focus in estate planning, including trusts, wills, and conservatorships.  We also navigate the complexities of Social Security Disability benefits. Our trust and estate lawyers in Maryland understand that these matters are both legal and deeply personal. We offer compassionate counsel to help you plan confidently for the future.

Don’t leave your assets and legacy hanging in the balance.  If you have questions about estate planning, trusts, or want to protect your hard-earned assets, contact us today. With careful planning and legal advice, you can ensure your future, and that of your loved ones, is secure.

a scale house on some forms for a deed to conceptualize on the financial investmentAdding the name of your child to your property deed might seem like a simple way to ensure the smooth transfer of your home and avoid issues like probate after you pass away.  However, there are some significant potential drawbacks to be aware of before making this decision.

  1. Loss of Control

Once you add your child to your deed, they become a co-owner of your property. This means they have the same rights to sell, mortgage, or alter the property as you do, potentially without your consent.  You lose sole decision-making control over the property.

  1. Exposure to Your Child’s Liabilities

If your child incurs debts, faces lawsuits, or files for bankruptcy, their creditors may be able to place a lien on the property or even force its sale. Your attempt to help your child could unintentionally put your own home at risk.

  1. Complications with Estate Planning

Adding a child to your deed can override other aspects of your estate plan, such as your will or trust. This can cause unintended consequences and potentially lead to disputes amongst your heirs. Estate planning should be carefully considered; prematurely transferring property ownership can introduce unforeseen complications.

  1. Gift Tax Implications

Transferring part ownership of your home to your child is considered a gift by the IRS. If the property’s value exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion limit, you may need to pay gift taxes.  It’s essential to understand the potential tax consequences before adding your child to the deed.

  1. Capital Gains Tax Issues

When inheriting a property, beneficiaries usually receive a “step-up in basis,” meaning its value for tax purposes is adjusted to the fair market value at the time of the owner’s death. By adding your child to the deed during your lifetime, their basis in the property remains the same as  yours.  This can result in significantly higher capital gains taxes if they later sell the property.

Protect Your Assets and Your Legacy

Before making any significant changes to your property ownership,  consult with an experienced estate planning attorney in Baltimore. An attorney can assess your individual circumstances, discuss alternative strategies, and ensure your decisions align with both your financial goals and your wishes regarding your legacy.

If you are in need of estate planning services or have questions about property ownership issues, contact the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason. Our trust and estate lawyers are committed to helping you make informed decisions and safeguard your assets for the future.

Let us guide you through the complexities of estate planning.  Call us for a consultation.

this is their family heirloomThe passing on of family heirlooms is a symbolic tradition, encapsulating the essence of familial history and values. These items, often steeped in memories and emotions, can, however, become sources of contention during estate divisions. To ensure these treasured possessions are handed down smoothly, and with minimal familial discord, a strategic approach is imperative. This often involves legal counsel from professionals like Social Security Disability lawyers or Baltimore MD disability insurance attorneys, who, despite their primary focus areas, are well-equipped to navigate the intricacies of estate planning.

Legal Guidance: A Pillar in Estate Planning

Creating a successful estate plan, especially when dealing with heirloom transfers, requires a series of strategic steps involving legal guidance. Here is a step-by-step process highlighting the importance of incorporating legal professionals:

Begin by consulting an attorney knowledgeable in estate and disability law. This step is crucial for informed, legally sound estate planning.

With your attorney, draft clear, enforceable legal documents such as wills or trusts. This step is essential to clearly define heirloom distribution and avoid future misunderstandings.

Encourage open discussions among family members about the estate plans. This transparency helps align expectations and reflect the estate owner’s intentions.

Work with your attorney to develop strategies that can help avoid future disputes among beneficiaries. This could involve setting up specific clauses in legal documents or arranging family meetings to discuss the estate plans.

Estate planning is an ongoing process. Regularly review and update your estate plans with your attorney to reflect any changes in circumstances or intentions. This ensures that the estate plan remains relevant and effective.

Following these steps with the guidance of a skilled legal professional ensures that the process of estate planning, particularly the transfer of heirlooms, is conducted smoothly, legally, and in a way that honors the wishes of the estate owner.

The Emotional Quotient in Legal Planning

While legal documents are the backbone of estate planning, equal weight must be given to the emotional connections attached to family heirlooms. Social security disability lawyers and disability attorneys in MD often advise on considering the sentimental value of items during their allocation. This approach not only ensures a fair distribution but also minimizes emotional conflicts among heirs.

Strategies for Fair Distribution

Attorneys focused on social security disability often recommend objective criteria for heirloom distribution. This might involve an equal division or taking into account the personal attachment or needs of the beneficiaries. Guidance from a Baltimore social security disability lawyer is invaluable in formulating strategies that promote an equitable distribution.

The Role of a Neutral Mediator

In some situations, involving a neutral mediator, such as a social security disability lawyer, can help in resolving disputes. Their impartial perspective and legal insight can be pivotal in ensuring that the distribution aligns with the original intentions of the estate owner.

5 Key Strategies to Secure Your Family’s Heirloom Legacy

Protecting Your Heirlooms and Family Harmony

Don’t leave the future of your family heirlooms to chance. For comprehensive and compassionate legal assistance, consider reaching out to the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason. Their team of knowledgeable social security disability lawyers are well-equipped to provide you with the guidance needed to ensure your treasured possessions are passed down in a way that honors your wishes and maintains family harmony. 

By choosing the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason, you’re not just making a legal decision; you’re taking a step towards securing your legacy and protecting the bonds of your family. Their team is committed to understanding your unique needs and providing a plan that aligns with your family’s values and traditions. Trust in their capable hands to safeguard your heirlooms and your family’s future.

inherited IRA documents on a tableInheriting an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) can be a significant financial event, bringing both opportunities and responsibilities. It’s essential for beneficiaries, particularly those in Baltimore, Maryland, to understand the rules and implications of inheriting such an account. This understanding is crucial, especially for those seeking guidance from a Social Security Disability lawyer who can provide insight into how an inherited IRA interacts with benefits like Supplemental Security Income.

What is an Inherited IRA?

An inherited IRA, or beneficiary IRA, is established when someone inherits retirement plan assets, like an IRA or 401(k), after the original holder’s death. The rules for managing these inherited accounts vary based on the IRA type (Traditional or Roth) and the beneficiary’s relation to the deceased. These regulations are crucial as they impact the timing and taxation of withdrawals; distributions from a traditional inherited IRA are typically taxable, while those from an inherited Roth IRA may be tax-free.

Significant changes to these rules came with the SECURE Act of 2019, particularly affecting the distribution timeline. Whereas beneficiaries could previously extend distributions across their lifetimes, most non-spouse beneficiaries must now deplete the inherited IRA within ten years of the original owner’s passing. There are exceptions for certain beneficiaries, like minors or individuals with disabilities. This alteration underscores the need for strategic planning to manage tax implications and maximize the inheritance’s value, requiring beneficiaries to consider various withdrawal strategies in line with their financial objectives.

Key Considerations for Inherited IRAs

Inherited IRAs can be either Traditional or Roth IRAs, and the rules regarding these accounts vary. For Traditional IRAs, beneficiaries must consider the tax implications of distributions, as these are typically taxed as ordinary income. In contrast, Roth IRAs offer tax-free withdrawals, providing a potentially significant tax advantage.

Beneficiaries of inherited IRAs are often subject to Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). The specifics of these distributions depend on various factors, including the beneficiary’s relationship to the deceased and the age of the original account holder at the time of death. Understanding these rules is vital to avoid substantial penalties.

For recipients of Social Security Disability benefits in Baltimore, MD, inheriting an IRA can have implications. The additional income from an IRA might affect eligibility for Supplemental Security Income or other means-tested benefits. Consulting with a knowledgeable Social Security Disability attorney is advisable to navigate these complexities.

Tax Implications and Planning Strategies

The tax treatment of inherited IRAs depends on the type of IRA and the beneficiary’s decisions. Beneficiaries should be aware of the potential for immediate tax consequences based on their withdrawals and the timing of these distributions.

Beneficiaries should consider long-term tax planning strategies, possibly in consultation with a disability lawyer in Baltimore, MD, who understands the interplay between retirement assets and disability benefits. Effective planning can minimize tax liabilities and preserve the value of the inherited IRA.

Legal Considerations and Seeking Professional Advice

A Social Security Disability lawyer or attorney can provide crucial guidance for beneficiaries who are also recipients of disability benefits. They can offer advice on how an inherited IRA might impact these benefits and suggest strategies to manage the account effectively.

Inherited IRAs also involve considerations of estate and tax laws. Beneficiaries in Baltimore, MD, and beyond should seek legal counsel to navigate these laws, ensuring compliance and optimal financial planning.

Secure Your Financial Future with Professional Guidance

Inheriting an IRA presents a unique opportunity to enhance your financial security. However, it also requires thoughtful consideration of tax implications, legal requirements, and potential impacts on disability benefits. To fully leverage this opportunity and ensure adherence to relevant regulations, consulting with a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer in Baltimore, MD, is a prudent decision. The team at the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason is well-versed in disability insurance and supplemental security income, providing valuable insights to make informed decisions about your inherited IRA.

Engaging the services of a knowledgeable professional from the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason allows you to confidently address the complexities of inherited IRAs. Reach out to this reputable firm in Baltimore, MD, for disability insurance guidance today to secure your financial future and make the most of your inherited assets. Remember, the right guidance is essential in maximizing the benefits of your inherited IRA while protecting your existing disability benefits.

mature grieving father giving hug to mourning daughter crying on his shoulder while both standing against coffin with closed lid at funeralThe passing of a parent is a profound and pivotal event in anyone’s life. It signifies not only the loss of a loved one but also a significant shift in family dynamics and responsibilities. When your last parent passes, it triggers a series of legal, emotional, and financial processes that can be overwhelming. Understanding these processes is crucial for navigating this challenging time.

The Legal Process: Probate and Estate Settlement

When handling the probate process for a parent’s estate in Baltimore, MD, it’s essential to follow a series of steps, considering Maryland state laws:

The process begins with submitting the deceased’s will to a probate court in Baltimore. This is the first official step in initiating the probate proceedings.

Once the will is submitted, the court will appoint an executor (as named in the will) or an administrator (if no will exists or no executor is named) to manage the estate’s probate process.

The executor or administrator must then assess the total value of the estate. This might involve getting professional appraisals for certain assets to determine their fair market value.

Before distributing assets to beneficiaries, all outstanding debts and taxes of the estate must be settled. This includes any liabilities, as well as federal and state taxes owed by the estate.

After all debts and taxes are cleared, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries as outlined in the will or, if there’s no will, according to Maryland state law.

Given the legal nuances and complexities of the probate process in Baltimore, MD, seeking guidance from estate planning attorneys in Maryland estate law is crucial. They can provide assistance in navigating the probate process, ensuring legal compliance, and facilitating a smooth transition of the estate.

These steps are designed to ensure the probate process is conducted efficiently and in accordance with Maryland’s legal requirements, thus honoring your parent’s legacy appropriately.

Financial Implications: Debts and Inheritances

One of the first steps in managing your parent’s estate is to settle any outstanding debts. This includes mortgages, credit card debts, and medical bills. It’s important to know that certain debts may be forgiven upon death, but others will need to be paid out of the estate’s assets.

After debts are settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries as per the will. In cases where there is no will, state laws will determine how the assets are divided. This can become complex, especially if there are significant assets or disputes among family members.

Emotional Considerations: Grieving and Moving Forward

The emotional impact of losing your last parent cannot be understated. It is a period of mourning and adjustment. Seeking support from family, friends, or professional counselors is crucial during this time. Along with the grief, there might be a sense of new responsibilities and roles within the family. It’s a time to come together with siblings or other relatives to support each other and make collective decisions about the future.

The Importance of Legal Assistance

Given the complexities involved in settling an estate, seeking legal counsel is crucial. A social security disability lawyer in Baltimore can provide much-needed guidance, especially if your parent was a recipient of social security benefits. Social security disability attorneys are familiar with state-specific laws and can help navigate any legal challenges that arise. They can also assist in mediating disputes and ensuring a smooth probate process.

Embrace Support and Legal Guidance

The loss of your last parent is a profoundly transformative experience, replete with multifaceted challenges. However, with appropriate support and guidance, you can manage this difficult period more effectively. In such times, remember that you are not alone. The assistance provided by a social security disability lawyer in Baltimore is invaluable.

During this critical juncture, reachout to the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason for personalized legal advice and support. Their dedicated team, well-versed in the complexities of estate settlement and social security law, stands ready to assist you. By choosing a lawyer from the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason, you ensure that your parent’s estate is managed fairly and in strict adherence to legal norms, giving you the space to focus on personal healing and paying homage to your parents’ memory. Connect with a trusted attorney from the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason in Baltimore, MD, to help guide you smoothly through this significant life transition.

businessman and team analyzing financial statement Finance taskWhen managing the aftermath of a loved one’s passing, the role of an executor is both crucial and challenging. Appointed through a will or by a court, an executor is responsible for administering the deceased’s estate. This role involves a myriad of duties, from managing assets and paying debts to distributing inheritances. It’s essential for those appointed as executors and individuals planning their estate to comprehend these responsibilities thoroughly.

The Executor’s Duties

An executor, appointed to manage the estate of a deceased person, has several key responsibilities. These responsibilities include:

  1. Probate the Will: The executor must file the deceased person’s will with the local probate court. Probate is the legal process through which the will is validated and the estate is officially opened.
  2. Identify and Secure Estate Assets: The executor is responsible for locating and protecting all assets of the estate. This includes physical property, bank accounts, investments, and other personal property.
  3. Notify Interested Parties: The executor must notify beneficiaries named in the will, as well as any potential heirs. Creditors must also be informed so they can make claims against the estate if necessary.
  4. Manage Estate Finances: The executor must open a bank account for the estate to handle incoming and outgoing funds, pay ongoing expenses, and ensure the estate’s financial responsibilities are met.
  5. Pay Debts and Taxes: The executor is responsible for paying any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased from the estate’s funds. This may include federal and state taxes, as well as any personal debts.
  6. Distribute Assets to Beneficiaries: After debts and taxes are paid, the executor distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will.
  7. Maintain Records: The executor must keep detailed records of all transactions, including income, expenses, assets sold, and distributions to beneficiaries.
  8. Final Accounting and Closing the Estate: Once all debts, taxes, and distributions have been made, the executor must provide a final accounting to the probate court and request closure of the estate.

These responsibilities require the executor to act with care, diligence, and honesty, always in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. Executors can seek professional advice from estate planning attorneys in Baltimore, accountants, and financial advisors to help fulfill their duties.

Executor Challenges

Executors in Maryland face a range of challenges that often necessitate legal assistance, primarily due to the complex nature of estate administration and the state’s specific legal requirements. Here are some of the key challenges:

Maryland Laws: Understanding and complying with Maryland’s specific estate laws, including probate, taxes, and asset distribution, is complex and requires legal proficiency.

Probate Process: Navigating Maryland’s intricate probate process involves filing wills, managing assets, and meeting strict legal deadlines, where legal guidance is crucial for compliance.

Debts and Taxes: Executors must accurately handle the deceased’s debts and taxes, including state and federal obligations, to avoid personal liability.

Asset Management: Managing and appraising estate assets, especially significant or complex properties, demands focused knowledge and professional assistance.

Conflict Resolution: Resolving disputes among beneficiaries or with the executor over the will, asset valuation, or distribution, often requires legal mediation.

Beneficiary Communication: Executors must maintain clear, consistent communication and transparent accounting with beneficiaries, aligning with legal requirements.

Fiduciary Duties: Fulfilling high fiduciary standards and avoiding potential legal liabilities necessitate understanding these duties, an area where a will attorney is essential.

Due to these challenges, executors often find it beneficial to seek legal assistance to navigate the complexities of estate administration, ensure compliance with Maryland laws, and manage the risk of personal liability. Legal professionals focused on estate law can provide invaluable support throughout the probate process, from filing the will to the final distribution of assets.

Guiding Executors Through Legal Complexities

Guiding executors through the complexities of their role requires more than just legal knowledge; it demands a deep understanding of both financial and legal intricacies. This is where the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason come into play, providing invaluable support in Baltimore, particularly for estates involving social security benefits. Their team, composed of adept social security disability and disability insurance attorneys, offers crucial assistance, ensuring that every step taken honors the legacy of the deceased with precision and care. 

Engaging with the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason is a strategic decision, bringing clarity and professionalism to the executor’s journey, ensuring each responsibility is fulfilled ethically and in accordance with the law. Reach out to them for support that simplifies complex tasks and upholds the highest legal standards.

young married couple who are planning to buy new house reading contract terms and conditions togetherLife is replete with a multitude of moments that shape our journey. Many of these life events not only affect our present but can significantly impact our future and the future of our loved ones. One of the tools that we use to safeguard that future is an estate plan. 

At its essence, estate planning is a methodical approach to managing and disposing of personal wealth. Yet, with the dynamism of life events, it’s paramount to ensure your estate plan remains current, reflecting your latest intentions and the newest legal standards. 

Why Regularly Reviewing Your Estate Plan is Vital

Life is constantly changing, and so should your estate plan. Just setting it up once isn’t enough. Regular reviews ensure it remains relevant and effective. Let’s explore why keeping your estate plan updated is so vital.

  1. Marriage or Divorce

When you get married, your new spouse automatically becomes your heir at law. This means that if you die without a will, your spouse will inherit your entire estate, regardless of your wishes. If you have children from a previous relationship, you may want to create a will or trust to ensure that they also inherit a portion of your estate.

If you get divorced, you should review your estate plan to make sure that your ex-spouse is no longer listed as a beneficiary. You should also update your will or trust to name a new guardian for your minor children.

  1. Birth or Adoption of a Child

When you have a child, you should update your estate plan to include your new child as a beneficiary. You should also name a guardian for your child in case you and your spouse die before your child reaches the age of majority.

If you adopt a child, you should update your estate plan to reflect your new relationship with your child. Your adopted child should have the same inheritance rights as your biological children.

  1. Acquiring Substantial Assets

If you experience a significant change in your assets or income, you should review your estate plan to make sure that it is still appropriate. For example, if you inherit a large sum of money or start a new business, you may need to update your estate plan to reflect your new financial situation.

  1. Death of a Beneficiary or Trustee

If your spouse, child, or other beneficiary dies, you should review your estate plan to make sure it still reflects your wishes. You may need to update your will or trust to name a new beneficiary or to change the distribution of your assets.

  1. Changes in the Law

Laws can evolve, and what was once a sound legal decision might now be outdated or non-compliant. By collaborating with the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason, you can be assured your documents are in line with current legislation.

  1. Relocation

Different states have varying estate laws. If you’ve relocated, it’s essential to seek guidance from an estate planning lawyer familiar with local mandates.

  1. Health Concerns

If you or a beneficiary has health challenges, considering mechanisms like conservatorship attorneys can be vital. They ensure that there’s a legal framework in place if you’re unable to make decisions.

  1. Reassessing Guardians, Trustees, and Executors

As years pass, your trust in certain individuals may shift. Regularly assess if those you’ve designated as guardians, trustees, or executors still align with your intentions.

  1. Retirement

When you retire, you should review your estate plan to make sure it meets your needs in retirement. You may need to update your estate plan to include new assets, such as Social Security benefits or retirement savings. You may also need to update your estate plan to reflect your new lifestyle, such as if you plan to move to a new location or travel extensively.

Securing Tomorrow: Estate Planning with the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason

Life’s unpredictability underscores the need for a robust, yet flexible estate plan. By not reviewing it regularly, especially after significant life events, you risk its misalignment with your true intentions and possibly even legal compliance. The Law Offices of Terri D. Mason has helped countless individuals ensure that their estate plans mirror their current wishes and adhere to the most recent legal standards.

Don’t leave the future to chance. Secure it with a well-maintained estate plan. Whether you need a will attorney or guidance on conservatorship, our dedicated team is here to assist. Make the first step today. Reach out to the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason and embark on a journey to peace of mind for you and your loved ones. 

charitable giving paper message on assorted cashLeaving behind a mark in the world is an aspiration many hold. When individuals think about estate planning, it’s often about securing the future of their loved ones. But what about the causes and institutions that resonate with one’s values? This is where charitable giving in estate planning comes into play. An estate plan is not just about transferring assets; it’s also about transferring values.

Understanding Charitable Giving in Estate Planning

There are many benefits to including charitable giving in your estate plan, including:

Reduce your taxable estate. Charitable bequests and gifts can reduce the value of your taxable estate, which can lower your estate tax liability.

Support your favorite charities. By including charitable giving in your estate plan, you can ensure that your favorite charities continue to receive support after your death.

Leave a lasting legacy. Charitable giving can be a way to leave a lasting legacy and make a difference in the world.

Choosing the Right Method for Charitable Giving

There are many ways to include charitable giving in your estate plan. Here are a few of the most common:


A bequest is a gift of money or property that is made in your will. You can bequeath a specific amount of money, a percentage of your estate, or specific assets, such as real estate or stocks. Bequests are one of the simplest ways to give to charity through estate planning.

Charitable trusts

A charitable trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to donate money or property to charity while still maintaining some control over it during your lifetime. There are many different types of charitable trusts, each with its own unique benefits. For example, a charitable remainder trust can provide you with income during your lifetime and then donate the remaining assets to charity after your death.

Charitable gift annuities

A charitable gift annuity is a contract between you and a charity. You agree to donate a certain amount of money to the charity, and the charity agrees to pay you a fixed income for the rest of your life. After your death, the remaining assets are donated to the charity.

Life insurance

You can name a charity as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. When you die, the insurance company will pay the death benefit to the charity.

Retirement accounts

You can also name a charity as the beneficiary of your retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) or IRA. When you die, the retirement account custodian will distribute the assets to the charity.

Non-cash gifts

In addition to cash, you can also donate non-cash assets to charity, such as real estate, stocks, and artwork. Non-cash gifts can be a good way to reduce your taxable estate and support your favorite charities.

Step-by-Step Guide to Including Charitable Giving in Your Estate Plan

To help simplify the process, here’s a guide.

Step 1: Reflect on your values to identify causes or charities you wish to support.

Step 2: Research reputable charities that resonate with your chosen causes.

Step 3: Consult with an estate planning attorney at the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason.

Step 4: Understand the tax benefits associated with your charitable donations.

Step 5: Decide on the charitable giving method (bequests, trusts, or annuities).

Step 6: Document your decisions clearly in your will or other estate planning tools.

Step 7: Notify the selected charities about your planned contributions.

Step 8: Revisit and review your estate plan periodically for any necessary updates.

Step 9: Communicate your charitable intentions to your loved ones.

Step 10: Safely store all relevant documents and inform a trusted person about their location.

Leaving a Legacy with a Thoughtful Estate Plan

Charitable giving in estate planning goes beyond just the transfer of assets. It’s a reflection of one’s beliefs and the desire to make a lasting impact. With the guidance of professionals from the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason, individuals can effectively weave their charitable aspirations into their estate plans.

If you’re looking to integrate charitable giving in your estate planning or need assistance with any other legal matters, don’t hesitate. Reach out to the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason today. 

parents with daughter glad hearing words of social worker at homeThe maze of estate planning can often be challenging, even more so when it involves discussing the future with aging parents. The phrase “estate plan” might seem daunting, but in reality, it’s a vital step to ensure that your parents’ wishes are respected and their assets are protected.

Understanding Estate Planning: The Basics

Estate planning is the process of setting up a framework to manage an individual’s assets after their death or in the event they become incapacitated. This often involves wills, trusts, and other legal documents.

A will is an essential document in estate planning. It designates how your parents’ assets should be distributed and who should carry out their wishes. Without a will, these decisions are left to the state, which can lead to unintended results.

Trusts offer flexibility and can be tailored to unique family situations. By using a trust and estate lawyer, families can ensure that their assets are distributed according to their specific wishes and even provide for the needs of family members with disabilities.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to appoint an individual to manage the personal and financial affairs of someone who can’t do it themselves. Conservatorship attorneys can guide families through this sensitive process, ensuring the utmost protection for your parents.

The Importance of Estate Planning for Parents

There are several reasons why estate planning is important for parents. 

First, it can help to ensure that your children are taken care of if something happens to you. If you do not have an estate plan in place, the court will decide how your assets are distributed, and this may not be in line with your wishes.

Second, estate planning can help to minimize estate taxes. Estate taxes are a tax on the assets that you pass on to your heirs after you die. The amount of estate tax that your heirs owe will depend on the value of your estate and the state in which you live.

Finally, estate planning can help to avoid probate court. Probate court is a legal process that is used to distribute the assets of a deceased person’s estate. Probate court can be a lengthy and expensive process, and it can also be stressful for your loved ones.

How to Help Your Parents Create an Estate Plan

Here are some specific things you can do to help your parents create an estate plan:

Making the Right Choice

Estate planning is more than just paperwork. It’s about ensuring peace of mind for your parents and safeguarding their legacy for future generations. By seeking guidance from experienced estate planning attorneys in Maryland, families can guarantee that their parents’ wishes are honored.

The Law Offices of Terri D. Mason is equipped to provide you with all the necessary support in these matters. With a team dedicated to estate planning, your family can move forward with confidence. Don’t wait for the future to unfold uncertainly. Take control now. Avail the right law services and help your parents create a comprehensive estate plan.

For more information on estate planning and other legal services, reach out to the Law Offices of Terri D. Mason today.