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It is said that as many as 50 percent of parents in the U.S. do not have a will. In addition, many people find it challenging to consider their mortality, so they delay the estate planning process. For those Maryland residents who do begin the estate planning process, however, there are a number of things that they must consider. One area of estate planning that is certainly important is the will planning process. While it is true that there are certain steps that should be taken once a will is drafted, there are also many considerations during the process.

One mistake that many people make in estate planning is attempting to do the plan on their own. While there are many do-it-yourself options available such as websites and kits, authorities suggest that these options be avoided if possible. Such options are not state specific, which can lead to problems down the line. There is also the potential for the do-it-yourself will to be considered invalid due to the signature and finalization.

The process of identifying assets is crucial in estate planning and should be done early on. Not only should real estate property be considered, but also investment and retirement funds, credit or bank accounts, even digital and biological property. Maryland residents should be aware that property acquired with a spouse may often be exempted from a will due to laws regarding the passing of ownership.

One of the best ways to avoid complications during and after the estate planning process is to have professional guidance throughout the planning process. Such guidance can ensure that documents are finalized legally, that assets are adequately accounted for and that joint property is considered. Planning a will is about more than merely deciding who gets what; it is about determining the future of one's property, assets and wishes. Maryland residents could contact legal counsel for assistance and to know their options regarding this estate planning process.

Source: US News and World Report, "Important Things to Consider When Preparing Your Will," Daniel Bortz, Sept. 26, 2012

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