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People in Maryland understandably typically prefer not to discuss death-related topics, which is why estate planning is often placed on the back burner of priorities. However, creating an estate plan is an essential task, and the beginning of the new year is an ideal time to embark on it. Seeking out legal guidance in the area of estate planning is also wise at a few other specific moments in life.

First, when people have been diagnosed with serious illnesses, they may want to put together powers of attorney as well as health care documents. These documents will help to ensure that their wishes related to health care are known. Additionally, they will want to make sure that trusted individuals have been named to make health care and financial decisions on their behalf as needed. This is important because many kinds of illnesses can lead to periods of incapacity.

Another time to focus on estate planning is when a child or grandchild has been born because one may wish to list the newly born individual as a beneficiary of one's estate. The purchase of a home might also necessitate an update to an estate planning document as would the purchase of a new vacation home. Also, major life changes such as marriages, divorces and even deaths of loved ones can spark a need to revisit one's estate plan.

Without a comprehensive estate plan, a person's personal wishes may not be upheld. This is true not only in the area of health but also when it comes to how his or her assets will be distributed following his or her death. Furthermore, an existing estate plan that is not updated may also prove ineffective in the event of incapacity or death. An applied understanding of the law may help people in Maryland navigate the estate planning process in a way that will benefit them and their family members in the future.

Source: wickedlocal.com, "Reasons to call an estate planning attorney", Maria Baler, Dec. 26, 2015

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