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Having estate plans in place gives people a peace of mind in knowing that their assets will be distributed according to their wishes in the event of their deaths. An estate plan also makes administering an estate a lot less burdensome for surviving heirs. A few tips may help people to successfully navigate the estate planning process in Maryland.

First, it is important to designate beneficiaries on one's retirement accounts and insurance policies. Any assets covered by beneficiary designations do not pass through probate, which is the legal process of distributing a deceased person's estate. Any designated beneficiaries listed on one's accounts usually trump those listed in one's will.

It is also wise to establish a trust. Trusts are helpful not only for well-to-do individuals but also for people with relatively modest estates who have several assets that are not covered by beneficiary designations. Trusts keep these assets from going through probate, and they give a person more control when his or her assets end up being distributed after his or her passing. Trusts are also helpful for people with minor children, particularly if they do not want their kids to receive their inheritances in lump sums.

A huge benefit of having an estate plan is privacy because an estate plan can help one's estate avoid probate. The probate process is costly and lengthy, and it becomes part of the public record. Proper legal guidance may help people complete well-thought-out estate plans for their own benefit as well as that of their loved ones in Maryland.

Source: valdostatoday.com, "Estate Planning Keeps Your Life Private by Steering Clear of Probate", Bob Lambert, Aug. 17, 2015

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