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Estate Planning FAQs

Trust in our experience

The Rockville, Maryland offices of Tyrrell Mason & Pillote, P.C. are located one-quarter mile from the White Flint Metro Station and along the Montgomery County Ride On bus route. If you cannot come to us, we will gladly come to you. Call us at 301-984-4790 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. We look forward to discussing your situation with you.

Serving Maryland and Washington, D.C.


What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the accumulation and disposition of an estate, typically to minimize taxes and maximize the transfer of wealth to the intended beneficiary. Estate planning tools include the will, trust, durable power of attorney, advance medical directive and living will.

Do I need a will?

A will protects your property and can especially be helpful if you want to distribute your property to people other than your relatives. Without a will, state law dictates the distribution of your property. The default plan normally distributes property to relatives.

Is it necessary for a lawyer to draft my will?

While it may seem straightforward for you to draft your will yourself, personally-drafted wills tend to be incomplete and are, therefore, invalid under state law. An attorney familiar with your specific state laws can legally draft a will that is valid under state law.

What happens if someone dies without a will?

State law uses a default will for anyone who dies without a will. Typically, the spouse and children of the person who died take the property. If there is no spouse and no children, the decedent’s parents take the property, followed by siblings, grandparents and children of the grandparents. If no close relation can be found, the property eventually belongs to the state. Note, though, that as part of the probate process, the decedent’s creditors lay claim to the property after certain allowances for spouse and children.

What is a trust?

In a trust, a party known as the trustee has legal ownership of property transferred to him by the person making the trust (the grantor). Trust assets are invested and/or managed for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. A trust can be living, that is, established during the grantor’s lifetime, or testamentary, established in a will. A trustee can be either an individual or an institution, such as a bank.

What are the duties and obligations of an executor or personal representative?

The executor or personal representative follows state law to wrap up the decedent’s affairs, including the following:

  • Giving the proper notices to proper parties
  • Collecting the decedent’s property
  • Receiving claims against the estate
  • Paying valid claims and disputing others
  • Distributing estate property according to the will or state law

Selling estate property to cover debts or allow for proper distribution may also be necessary.

Can I contest a will or trust?

Yes, when the person who wrote the will or trust was forced, deceived, mentally incompetent or duly influenced.

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