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At this time of year, many in Maryland and elsewhere consider gifts to give their families. For some, this means a trip to the local mall. For others, it means a review of an estate plan to ensure that it adequately reflects the wishes of the individual. This review includes all documents, including a last will and testament will, trust and other estate planning tools.

According to one recent report, many people in Maryland and across the nation discover that they have left out some important information during a review of their estate plan. In fact, the report indicates that there are several common types of information omitted from many wills. Correcting these can help alleviate stress for heirs and beneficiaries after the death of the individual who created the estate plan.

In some instances, people use different names for themselves on documents such as a will or power of attorney. If this is the case, the family of a person who has been identified by different names must prove to the court that the one who passed is indeed the person named. Making sure your name is the same on all estate planning documents can limit the need for multiple court appearances by your survivors during the probate process.

In addition to names being uniform, it is also important to ensure that any special bequest is detailed. Such a detail can remove any question of the intent of the person who created a will and limit the potential for litigation. Because the process can be complicated, many find that it is important to gain a full understanding of the applicable rules that apply to estate planning. This, along with a full review of all documents in place, can make the probate process easier for heirs and allow the individual creating the plan to rest assured their wishes will be honored.

Source: Fox Business, "Give the Gift of Planning," Jennie Phipps, Dec. 17, 2012

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