Personal Planning

Estate Planning

The attorneys and paralegals at Shaffer, McLauchlin, and Stover bring skill and experience to the estate planning process. No two plans are the same. Our knowledgeable team can guide a client through simple planning, or can formulate and implement an appropriate plan for more complex and sophisticated planning needs. In either case, our assistance is highly personalized.

We pride ourselves on preparing only those documents that are truly necessary to safely and effectively achieve the clients’ goals. Most often, this includes the preparation of a Will, durable power of attorney documents, and advance medical directives for health care decisions. However, planning can sometimes include organizing a business entity, such as a family limited partnership or limited liability company. It can also include the creation of a trust, as described below.

Of course, there are other aspects of having an “estate plan.”  We often provide guidance to individuals with preparing appropriate beneficiary designation forms for distributions from non-probate assets, such as life insurance and retirement plan accounts. These are part of a “plan” as well. Similarly, when a business is part of an estate, business succession planning can become an important part of planning. Our firm is therefore able to offer business support as well.

Real estate is also a common component of most plans in some way or another. We therefore advise clients on the propriety of estate planning techniques involving the retitling of property, including life-estate deeds, business entities and trusts to hold real estate.

Trust Planning

As part of our estate planning practice, we not only prepare Wills, but also utilize various types of trust agreements. Our goal in each case is to select the best estate planning tools for each client’s situation, providing streamlined planning and eliminating unnecessary complexities.

Sometimes, a trust is a good vehicle for tax planning. Other times, it is a good vehicle for allowing someone to assist with avoiding guardianship or managing assets. Certainly a trust can be beneficial for families who are planning for a loved one having special needs.

Trust planning is also an important consideration when planning for young children or family members who are exposed to addictions, divorces, lawsuits or other creditors. A trust can help accomplish the planning a client wants to do to provide for a loved one without unnecessarily exposing the assets.

Estate Administration

The term "probate" is used to refer to the proving of a Will following the death of a testator (person who made a Will). This area of the law allows a family member, friend, or other individual to open a probate estate for the deceased individual, and gives that person, known as a personal representative, the authority to implement a plan or otherwise follow Maryland law.

Our compassionate staff of professionals stands ready to assist our clients in navigating the legal issues that may arise following the death of a loved one. Whether the matter involves a small estate or a larger multi-dimensional administration, our team has experience with simple and complex estates, and even with disputed estates and estate litigation.

We provide comprehensive estate administration services to Personal Representatives and Special Administrators charged with the responsibilities of administering an estate. We assist and advise them with all aspects of the probate process, including qualification and appointment of the Personal Representative, identifying assets of the estate, preparing and filing and inventory and accountings, paying claims of the estate, and ultimately distributing assets of the estate to the proper beneficiaries.

Guardianship

Ideally, a power of attorney and advance medical directive will have been previously done and provide directions to an agent to make decisions for an impaired individual. If not, and if an individual has become cognitively impaired and is unable to make and communicate responsible decisions, he may need to have a guardian appointed for him by the Court. The process involves an attorney representing the petitioning individual who desires to have the court appoint a guardian for an impaired individual, as well as an attorney appointed by the court to represent the alleged disabled person.

Asset Protection

Many people have been improperly informed about what happens when one is elderly and facing the exorbitant costs of nursing care. There are some tools available to allow an aging individual to protect some of his or her assets for family members. If there is a crisis situation where there is impending nursing home care, there are still ways for a client to protect some of his or her hard-earned money for family members. With proper planning before crisis occurs, there are methods to protect assets long before an individual is facing nursing home care.

Real Estate Planning Areas

The firm handles real estate transactions for both individuals and for businesses. We have expertise in obtaining zoning and subdivision approvals for the development of land, as well as creation of condominium regimes, homeowners associations and restrictive covenants. We can advise as to the best manner in buying and selling property. We frequently draft commercial leases, both for landlords and tenants.