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Estate Planning 101


Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake (SZL) has long been one of the premier Criminal Defense,
DUI/DWI and Personal Injury law firms in the state of Maryland.  That is but one reason
why US News and World Report has consistently rated SZL as one of the Best Law Firms in
America! We believe that each and every client’s case and personal situation is different, and
requires a unique approach tailored to each specific client.

SZL is now proud to offer that same client centered and individualized practice to help plan for
your future, as well as the future of your family, with our new Estate Planning practice
area.  Estate Planning can be a difficult conversation to broach with your loved ones. It requires
you and your family to think about death, and that is never an easy conversation to have. But
more importantly, it is about protecting your spouse, your children and your family.

It is amazing the number of people whose response to the mention of the critical Estate Planning
documents such as a Last Will and Testament, Advanced Medical Directive, or Power of
Attorney is, “Oh yeah, I really need to do that.”  These legal documents allow you to maintain
control of where your assets pass upon death, as well as make sure that the important legal and
medical decisions surrounding your life are made in accordance with your wishes, when you
may not be in a position to articulate those wishes due to physical or mental
incapacitation. Although these can be difficult thoughts to wrestle with, the reality is that if you
don’t take the appropriate steps to make those decisions for yourself and your family, then
someone else is going to make them for you.  That someone may have no regard for your
personal desires.

It is the unfortunate reality of life that tomorrow is not promised, and the future cannot be
predicted.  Proper Estate Planning can help alleviate a major burden in the event of the loss of a
loved one, if that person’s wishes regarding their property are all properly laid out. Otherwise, in
what should be a time of grieving, but also celebrating the life of a loved one, you may find
yourself in court arguing over what that loved one “would have wanted”.   Allowing the SZL
team to assist you in drafting documents to plan for the future of your family will alleviate any
uncertainty as to what you “would have wanted” and allows you to make those critical decisions
as to what is best for your family and not the Courts.

Those key documents which everyone should have are:

  1. Last Will and Testament
  2. Advanced Medical Directive
  3. Power of Attorney

In a Will, you are able to articulate the specific bequests of your property to specific family
members, friends or loved ones.  You will also select a person to act as your Personal
Representative to make sure these items are transferred to the intended beneficiary, again, in
accordance with how you want those assets distributed.  Even more importantly, determining
that your children are cared for by people of your choosing.

Over the next few weeks, SZL’s Associate Attorney, Justin M. Lake, Esq., will be dedicating
entire blog posts to each specific document- Last Will and Testament, Advanced Medical
Directive, and Power of Attorney.  It is Justin’s goal that with these posts you will have a better
understanding of the importance of getting these documents in place, and the long-term benefits
that they can have for your family down the road. SZL is happy to offer a Free Consultation to
help determine the best estate planning approach for your particular situation.  If you have any
questions, Justin can be reached at any time by contacting him or calling (410) 927-5137.

Thank you for considering SZL to help you with your estate planning!