Planning for Married Couples

Serving Families and Individuals throughout Laurel, Maryland and the Surrounding Areas

With each marriage come new rights and new responsibilities. If you already have an estate plan created when you were single, then you must bring your estate plan up-to-code to reflect your wedding vows.

Unfortunately, many married couples mistakenly believe that they can make personal, health care and financial decisions for one another should either spouse become legally incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness. Nothing could be further from reality!

Without proper estate planning in advance to appoint your spouse as the incapacity decision-maker, he or she will not have legal authority to make even fundamental decisions for you (or affecting both of you). For example, medical privacy laws will bar access to your medical records and the ability to consult with your attending physician, financial laws limit control over your finances, and IRS regulations will prohibit filing a “legal” joint income tax return … for starters.

Unless you legally appoint the decision-maker of your own selection in advance of an incapacity, through a Property Power of Attorney (and possibly a Living Trust), then a judge may be required to select a guardian for you. The guardianship process to accomplish this is expensive (it employs at least two attorneys), discloses your private personal and financial information to the public record and is a real hassle for your loved ones. Without a Last Will and Testament (and possibly Living Trust), you give up the right to decide who will stand in your shoes to handle your affairs when you die.

Did you know that in the absence of proper estate planning, your assets may be distributed after death based on “one-size-fits-all” state laws written for people who do not have their own estate plan? Of course, this impersonal estate plan written by state lawmakers may not reflect your own unique circumstances and objectives for your spouse and assets. In fact, depending on how you titled your premarital assets and how your beneficiary designations are arranged, you may disinherit your own spouse and force your spouse to sue your estate!

Fortunately, we can help you avoid probate and replace that impersonal, state-written, one-size-fits-all estate plan with one we design together for your unique circumstances and objectives. We even help you coordinate the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement plans with your estate plan to avoid unpleasant, unintended consequences.

Testimonials

Steve Z.

Erik and Wendy were patient and thorough. Great follow up. Made sure that I considered all aspects of estate planning and provided me with peace of mine for my family when I am gone.

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Michael C.

Probate Court “It went better than expected during a year of dealing with paperwork and going to the Courthouse several times. But in the end it worked out better than I could of hoped for. Certainly Recommend to anyone who needs a Lawyer to stop by, their right beside the Post Office on Main Street in Laurel.”

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Michael M.

Fantastic!! I came very confused after my wife‘s death and in a half hour with Tom I felt like I knew what I needed to do and they have been with me every step of the way. Very pleasant, knowledge and a great help in navigating areas with which I have no experience. Thank you very much!

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Keith B.

Tom is an excellent attorney who really knows his business. He won’t guide you wrong. Our kids grew up together & I’ve known him for decades. I know him form more than just his professional work. He is a very good man and someone you can absolutely trust

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Lynn D. C.

We had the Downs Law Firm set up a trust for us years ago and recently made an appointment to review the information and make some changes. Tom was very helpful in expediting the necessary changes. The office staff was very friendly. We have been very satisfied with the Downs Law Firm. We also used Tom’s services to have a will and other necessary documents drawn up for my Dad. We would recommend the Downs Law Firm to others.

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Cynthia F.

Tom Downs has always provided our family with expert and professional estate planning advice and documents. We highly recommended him to anyone living in the State of Maryland to seek out his advice and services for their estate planning needs.

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