Our Top-Rated Estate Planning & Litigation Law Firm
Focuses on Protecting What's Important. You, Your Family, and Your Legacy!
Are you looking to protect your assets, minimize taxes, and ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after you're gone? Look no further than the Law Office of Chelsea M. Sadler LLC. Our experienced team provides comprehensive estate planning services that can help you achieve your goals and protect your legacy.
Our estate planning services include drafting wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other tools that are tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. We also provide guidance on probate and other related legal matters, ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
At the Law Office of Chelsea M. Sadler LLC, we understand that estate planning can be a complex and emotional process. That's why our team is dedicated to providing compassionate and personalized service to every client. We have extensive experience in estate planning and related legal matters, and we hold relevant certifications and accolades that demonstrate our expertise.
A Basic Estate Plan includes:
Last Will and Testament:
A Last Will and Testament is a “legal expression or declaration of a person’s mind or wishes as to the disposition of his property, to be performed or take effect after his death.” Anyone who is 18 years of age and older and mentally competent can and should create a will. A will should answer at least these five questions:
Who will serve as Personal Representative? (This is the person who will be in charge of settling your final affairs and ensuring your beneficiaries will receive their inheritance.)
What powers will the Personal Representative have?
Who will inherit your property (real and / or tangible)?
When will the property be transferred to the beneficiaries?
If you have minor children, who will serve as their guardian?
Power of Attorney:
A power of attorney allows you to choose someone to act as your agent in multiple situations. These situations include handling banking transactions, real estate transactions, retirement accounts, insurance, etc. You are referred to as the “principal,” and the person that you appoint is called the “agent.” You can choose the way the power of attorney is designed, so you can give that person as much or as little power as you wish. You also have the option of making this document effective immediately or creating what is called a “springing” or “durable” power of attorney. This type of power of attorney will not go into effect until a predetermined circumstance occurs (most often the principal is deemed disabled or incompetent to manage his or her own affairs).
Advanced Medical Directive or “Living Will”:
Like the power of attorney, this document allows you to appoint someone to act as your medical agent. This person will be in charge of making medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. The advanced medical directive also allows you to make your wishes clear regarding medical interventions in certain end-of-life situations. This document can also be used to elect for organ donation.
How will your estate be distributed if you die without a will?IF THE DECEDENT IS SURVIVED BY: Spouse and minor children of decedent — spouse receives one-half, children share remaining one-half Spouse and children (all adult) of the decedent—spouse receives $40,000 ($15,000 for a date of death prior to October 1, 2017) plus one-half of remaining estate; children divide balance (the interest of a predeceased child passes to issue of that child) Children only of the decedent — children divide entire estate (the interest of a predeceased child passes to issue of that child) Spouse and parents of the decedent — if married more than 5 years see No. 5, if married less than 5 years the spouse receives $40,000 ($15,000 for a date of death prior to October 1, 2017) plus one-half of remaining estate — both parents divide balance or surviving parent takes balance Spouse of the decedent without other heirs listed above — spouse receives entire estate Parents of the decedent without other heirs listed above — both parents divide entire estate or surviving parent takes all Brothers/sisters of the decedent without heirs listed above — brothers and sisters divide estate equally (share of deceased sibling goes to their issue - nieces and nephews of the decedent) Grandparents without other heirs listed above — grandparents divide entire estate or, if deceased, to their issue (see applicable law for details) Great-grandparents without other heirs listed above — great-grandparents divide entire estate or, if deceased, to their issue Stepchildren — if there are no heirs listed above No living heirs or stepchildren — if decedent was recipient of long-term care benefits under the Maryland Medical Assistance Program at time of death, net estate is paid to Department of Health. Otherwise, the net estate is paid to the Board of Education in the county of the decedent’s domicile NOTE: “Child” does not include a stepchild or foster child
Does having a Will mean I can avoid probate in Maryland?Not always, but with careful planning, your beneficiaries might be able to avoid the probate procedure. Your estate plan will determine if probate is required.
What does a Maryland Probate Attorney do?As Maryland probate attorneys we offer families and individuals legal guidance and support during the estate administration process. In addition to assisting with the management of the estate's assets and liabilities, we often assist with the filing of wills and other legal documents. We also offer guidance on dealing with tax matters and allocating the estate's assets to the right beneficiaries. As Probate attorneys we can also be used to resolve beneficiary disputes as well as represent the estate in court, if necessary.
How much does probate cost?Probate Attorney Fees Maryland statutes spell out the fees and commissions estate attorneys may receive for normal administrative tasks. Any fees above the maximum permitted amount require approval by the Maryland Orphans Court. Fees within the standard range do not require court approval if all interested parties' consent. The state formula for attorney compensation is 9 percent of the first $20,000 of the gross estate and 3.6 percent of the amount over $20,000. For example, the standard attorney fee for an estate valued at $1 million is $37,080. That breaks down to $1,800 for the first $20,000 at 9 percent, and $35,280 for the remaining $980,000 at 3.6 percent. All such estate attorney fees are paid by the estate. The state formula is not the only option. Attorneys may also charge by the hour, and this arrangement is more efficient for many estates and personal representatives. As of January 1, 2023 our firm's hourly Estate Administration fee is $300 per hour we run the calculation of hourly vs. the state formula and whatever is less is what we charge. Probate Administration Fees Under Maryland law, probate and estate planning attorney fees are based on the total gross estate. For example, an estate valued at a minimum of $250,000 but less than $500,000 must pay $500 in fees, while an estate worth at least $500,000 but less than $750,000 owes $750. An estate worth $2 million but less than $5 million pays $2,500. Estates worth $5 million and up pay a $2,500 fee plus 0.2 percent on any excess over $5 million. These Maryland executor fees don’t include additional Letters of Administration, certified mail fees, filing a will for safekeeping, entering claims or caveat papers and plain, certified or exemplified copies. Attorney expenses not considered part of normal estate administration include: Copying and printing expenses Automobile mileage Court filing fees Bond premiums Messenger services. Extraordinary Services Common tasks falling outside the scope of normal estate administration but often undertaken by the probate attorney for additional fees upon request of the personal representative include: Leasing or sale of estate property Appearances before planning or zoning boards Recovering assets belonging to the estate held by another party Defense of tax audits Schedule a consultation today to find out how we can protect what's important to you.
How long does probate take in Maryland?In Maryland, the probate process can take a year or more. After the date of death, creditors have six months to file a claim. Probate must be open for at least six months after the assets have been divided so that a creditor can file a claim. If the will is challenged or other delays occur, it might take considerably longer. Even with a smaller inheritance, creditors must be given a minimum of seven to nine months' notice.
What are the responsibilities of a Personal Representative in a Maryland?As the personal representative of an estate during the Maryland Estate Probate Process, there are several key responsibilities that need to be fulfilled. Here is a list of responsibilities for the personal representative: 1. Gather and safeguard estate assets: Identify, locate, and secure all assets owned by the decedent, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and other valuable possessions. 2. Prepare and file the Petition for Probate: Work with our attorney to prepare and file the Petition for Probate with the appropriate Maryland court to initiate the probate process and obtain legal authority to administer the estate. 3. Notify interested parties: Provide notice to beneficiaries named in the will, potential heirs, and known creditors about the probate proceedings and their rights within the process. This may include publishing a notice to creditors in a local newspaper. 4. Create and maintain detailed records: Keep accurate records of all financial transactions, including income, expenses, and distributions made during the probate process. This includes maintaining receipts, invoices, bank statements, and other relevant documents. 5. Inventory and appraisal: Work with our attorney to compile a comprehensive inventory of the decedent's assets and their values. This may involve obtaining appraisals for certain assets to determine their fair market value as of the date of death. 6. Settle outstanding debts: Notify creditors of the decedent's passing and review and validate any claims submitted. Negotiate and settle legitimate debts using available estate assets, ensuring the fair treatment of creditors. 7. File necessary tax returns: Collaborate with our attorney and potentially a tax professional to prepare and file any required tax returns, such as the federal estate tax return (Form 706) or Maryland estate tax return, if applicable. 8. Distribute assets to beneficiaries: Once all debts, taxes, and administrative expenses have been settled, distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will or, in the absence of a will, in accordance with Maryland law. Ensure proper documentation and transfer of assets. 9. Prepare a final accounting: Work with the attorney to prepare a final accounting, which provides a detailed report of all financial transactions and distributions made during the probate process. 10. Obtain court approval and close the estate: Submit the final accounting and any other required documentation to the court for review and approval. Once the court approves, file the necessary paperwork to officially close the estate and be released from personal representative duties. It's important to note that the personal representative may have additional responsibilities based on the specific circumstances of the estate. Working closely with an experienced estate planning and probate attorney can help ensure that all responsibilities are fulfilled correctly and efficiently.
Over a Decade of Legal Experience
Request a Consultation
The Law Office of Chelsea M. Sadler LLC has vast experience handling cases pertaining to Last Will and Testament, Trusts, and Preparation and Business Succession Plans. We excel in personally guiding you through these complex legal processes, explaining each step. Whether you need legal advice or action, we are here to represent you and your unique needs. Schedule a consultation today to see how we can Protect What's Important!