Category Archives: Estate Planning and Probate

The ‘Fiscal Cliff’s’ Effect on Estate Taxes

Author: William P. Dale


Negotiations between Senate Republicans and Democrats to resolve the “fiscal cliff” continue, with today being the last day before a combination of spending cuts and tax increases are automatically implemented. Continue reading

An Overview of the Probate Process

Author: Charles F. Fuller

When a person dies, many questions arise.  An important question is what is to be done with their assets and debts?  Unless those assets are jointly titled or have been previously placed in a trust, the laws of most jurisdictions, including Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia require that the disposition of assets and liabilities be administered through the courts.  The task of gathering information, sorting out assets and liabilities and reporting that information to the court is generally known as “probate.” Continue reading

The Duties of a Personal Representative

Author: Charles F. Fuller

When a person dies and a petition for probate is filed with the local court, a “personal representative” is appointed by the court to administer the estate. Usually the person appointed as the personal representative is the person designated in the decedent’s last will and testament. The personal representative is charged with identifying the assets of the decedent and valuing those assets on the date of the decedent’s death. Continue reading

Legal Implications of the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage in Maryland


Author: Denise Martin

At present, the District of Columbia and nine states, including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington have legalized same-sex marriage and will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[1]  On March 1, 2012, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the Civil Marriage Protection Act into law, providing that same-sex couples can obtain a civil marriage license.  Maryland voters upheld the law on the November 6, 2012 election ballot (Question 6), and the law goes into effect beginning January 1, 2013. Continue reading

The Benefits of “Crummey Trusts”

Author: William P. Dale

Despite the potentially misleading name, Crummey Trusts can be a very effective tool in estate planning.  See Crummey v. Commissioner, 397 F.2d 82 (9th Cir. 1968).  The special importance of this type of (irrevocable) trust is that it makes feasible a form of gift-giving which allows the donor, (a parent, grandparent, or otherwise) to make gifts in trust, either to minors or adults, for whatever purposes the donor may have in mind, and still take advantage of the annual exclusions available for outright gifts (currently $13,000). Continue reading

Special Needs Trust

Author: William P. Dale

With the advances in medicine during the second half of the 20th Century, more and more families are dealing with the situation in which a mentally disadvantaged child has been able to grow into adulthood and can expect to live a normal life span. Since many disabled citizens are now living a significantly greater number of years, families are faced with a growing number of questions as to their care and maintenance. Continue reading

Steps to Take After a Loved One Dies

Author: William P. Dale

We, as lawyers, are often asked what steps survivors must take soon after the death of a family member or other person for whom they are responsible. Many of the decisions made in the first hours and days following a person’s death are personal. Sometimes, unfortunately, decisions must be made amid confusion and extreme grief. Some of the confusion can be avoided, if one takes steps in advance of death, to let his/her wishes be known. Continue reading