Choosing the right legatees to your estate is one of the simplest and most effective ways to accomplish these goals. Below are some of the most frequent places people look when selecting beneficiaries.
Spouses often chose each other. It is the simplest way to provide them with the means to live comfortably and if necessary, care for any children. However, it is important to remember that no family is the same, and therefore no two estate plans can be the same. The health of a spouse, potential future expenses, the status of all children (including those from a previous relationship), parents, or past spouses must all be considered.
Many people will often leave their estates, at least in part, to their children. This allows for everything from supporting their future education to providing funds to allow them to care for a surviving parent.
People that are close to their siblings or parents will at times name them as beneficiaries. This is often done in situations where surviving children and/or partners are unable to care themselves.
Trusts allow for more control over how money left is spent or distributed. While these arrangements can have more complex tax considerations, they can be used to ensure money is spent as you would wish instead of leaving it your survivors’ or local court’s whims and ideas. For example, if a widow has an income restriction due to social security benefits they receive, a trust can help ensure they are supported and remain qualified for that benefit, or a teenage child cannot spend money saved by their parent for college on a new car.
Other parties such as charities, alma maters, friends, and organizations can be named beneficiaries, but in these cases it is especially important to consult a local estate planning attorney to ensure your wishes are followed, you will not create liability for your estate or family, and taxes are appropriately considered.
Mr. Abraham is an experienced attorney and founding member of the Law Firm of Abraham & Bauer. The Towson, MD office of the firm concentrates its practice in Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate, Medical Assistance (Medicaid), Guardianship, Asset Preservation and Fiduciary Representation.
He is an active member in a number of professional organizations that focus on law, the senior community, and estate planning. He works with clients in Central Maryland, especially in Towson, Hunt Valley, Lutherville/Timonium, Parkville, White Marsh, Bel Air & Northern Baltimore City.
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