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take charge of your future. It's not as scary as you Think.

Estate Planning is for EVERYONE

  

  

The term "estate planning" refers to the preparation and execution of a set of documents, typically including a Last Will and Testament, financial power of attorney, and advance medical directive.  These documents allow you to make your wishes regarding asset management, health care decisions, and the disposition of your estate known, and binding, on your friends and relatives.


Estate planning is not a right reserved for the wealthy or the dying.  Nearly everyone can benefit from having these documents in place to protect their wishes.  Without the appropriate documents, Maryland law will dictate how your assets will be managed, possibly requiring a guardianship proceeding before the court; the extent to which life-sustaining treatment will be provided; and how your estate will be distributed, the outcome of which is often drastically different from what you may have wanted.


The importance of a properly drafted and duly executed Last Will and Testament cannot be overstated. Whether you are single, married, with or without children, eighteen or eighty-five years old, a Last Will and Testament will ensure that your property is distributed as you would like.  A Will also permits you to take advantage of estate tax planning opportunities, through the use of certain testamentary trusts.

In addition to directing the way in which property will be distributed, a Will permits parents of minor children to nominate who will serve as guardian of the person and property of their children in the event of the death of both parents.


While the thought of contemplating these issues may be unpleasant, avoiding them can cause stress and discord among your loved ones. Hammond Law can evaluate your circumstances and can identify tax planning and asset preservation techniques that may be incorporated in your estate plan to protect your legacy. We can review your personal situation in detail and help you to craft a comprehensive estate plan to ensure that your wishes are known, both during your life and beyond. 


The Hammond Law Process

  

  • Phone Consultation: The estate planning process begins with a brief phone consultation with an experienced member of our staff. During the consultation, we will discuss your concerns and solicit additional important information so that we can be certain we are the right firm for you.  If your issue is more complex than most, a follow-up phone call with an attorney will be scheduled.  There is no charge for either of these calls.  At that time, we will schedule an initial estate planning meeting.  


  • No Obligation: There is absolutely no obligation to retain Hammond Law beyond the initial planning meeting. Regardless of your needs, you will leave the meeting with a tangible plan (called "Hammond Law Homework") in place.  You are free to take the plan an implement it on your own, or, if you'd like to retain Hammond Law to help with all or part of your plan, we will discuss estimated fees at the conclusion of the meeting.  Our estate planning documents are billed on a flat fee basis so you have predictability when you decide to take charge of your future.


  • Pre-Meeting Materials: We will email (or mail) you a confirmation letter, with the date and time of your meeting, as well as instructions for other important documents to gather and bring to the meeting.  In addition to the      confirmation letter, we will send you directions to our office, our fee schedule, and a detailed, Estate Planning Questionnaire.  The Questionnaire is a fillable PDF file and can be completed on the computer or printed out and completed by hand. Although the Questionnaire is fairly detailed, the more thorough you are with your answers, the more in-depth the initial planning meeting will be.  These questions are merely designed to get you thinking about the questions that we will ask during the initial meeting.  It will also include a brief review of your assets, values, and account titles.  The purpose is for us to determine whether any tax planning strategies are appropriate for your situation, as well as identifying any titling or beneficiary designation pitfalls that may otherwise defeat your estate plan. 


  • Initial Estate Planning Meeting: The initial meeting usually lasts just under two hours, but finish sooner if you are prepared and your plan is simple.  We will review your existing documents, answer any questions you may have, and discuss recommended plans or changes.  We will then work through each of the documents so that we may compile all information necessary to prepare drafts of your documents.  Lastly, we will review, in detail, our engagement agreement, which you may sign on the spot or take with you to consider.  


  • Draft Documents: Usually we will complete your drafts within two weeks of your initial meeting.  We will send you drafts to review via our secure portal, email, or regular mail, depending on your preference.   Once we send your drafts, we will mark our calendar to follow up with you two weeks later to be sure you've had an opportunity to review the drafts.  Of course, you may take as long as you'd like but our goal is not to let this fall off your radar.  Any member of our staff is able to speak with you regarding revisions or changes to your drafts.  Once your documents are in final (or nearly final) form, we will schedule a short document signing meeting with an attorney. 

 

  • Document Signing: We take great care to hold your hand through the entire process and to ensure you understand every nuance of every document you are signing.  An attorney will review every paragraph of every document with you in plain English and will answer any additional questions you may have.  If you are comfortable with the documents at that point, we will bring a second staff member to the meeting to serve as a witness and/or Notary.  Every member of our office is a commissioned Notary Public.   


  • Safekeeping: We will review with you our recommended safekeeping instructions for each for the documents you execute.  We will also provide with you with printed instructions so you may refer back to them in the future.  If you'd prefer to file your original Last Will and Testament with the Register of Wills for the County in which you reside, we will be happy to handle the safekeeping process for you.  We are also happy to provide you with a complete digital copy of your executed documents for portability and future ease of reference or use. 


  • Annual Reminders: Thought you were done with us? Not so fast.  We know that life throws you curve balls.  Things change.  Children move away.  Grandchildren are born.  Financial status fluctuates.  Laws are passed.  We are here to send you an annual reminder letter to touch base with us if any of the above circumstances apply to you.  While all of your documents have a certain degree of contingency built into them, some changes warrant further discussion and updates.  Largely, estate planning updates are billed on an hourly basis which typically amounts to a fraction of the original flat fee. 


  • More Questions? We strive for transparency.  There is no "hide the ball" or "bait and switch" here.  Only answers to your very important questions.  Please do not hesitate to contact our office today so we can provide you with additional information.  

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If you're ready to take decision-making into your own hands, then we standby ready to help you.  We promise to keep the meeting as comfortable and pleasant as possible, while discussing these very important issues.