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What Is a Will?

Whether it’s simple or complex, a will (or “last will and testament”) is an essential legal document that governs what happens to your estate after you pass away. A will can also address a variety of other important topics — from who would care for your minor children or pets in the event of your death to who would pay any outstanding bills. 


Why (and When) Do I Need One?

Because life can be unpredictable, everyone should have an estate plan or will — regardless of their age and health.


When a person dies without a will in place, they’re considered to have died “intestate”, which means the distribution of their assets — and even the guardianship of any minor children — would be determined by the State of Maryland. On the other hand, having a will empowers you to decide what happens after you die, protects the investments you’ve made along with the assets you’ve worked so hard to obtain, and alleviates the logistical burden on your loved ones after your passing.

Why (and When) Do I Need One?

A Will Can Help:

  • Protect and secure your family’s future.
  • Provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
  • Prevent your family from having to navigate logistical, legal, and financial difficulties while grieving your passing.


What Can I Put In a Will?

Wills can be as simple or as complex as your assets and objectives dictate. Here are some examples of the goals typically outlined in a will:

  • Determining how you want your assets to be distributed
  • Deciding who you want to care for your minor children
  • Naming a person (or persons) to manage your estate and other affairs after you pass away
  • Designating charitable organizations you would like to receive gifts from your estate
  • Addressing certain tax considerations


What Shouldn’t I Put In a Will?

Wills serve a very specific purpose, and there are some limitations on what you can put in a will. Some examples of things you should not, or cannot, address in a will include:

  • Medical directives
  • Business interests
  • Jointly-held property that includes a “right of survivor” provision
  • Any assets that you do not want to go through probate
  • Funeral instructions
  • Conditional gifts
  • Assets designed to protect a vulnerable child or adult

It’s important to remember that a will is just one part of a robust estate plan. Additional estate planning documents can help address these and other topics.

The Will Creation Process


Wondering what to expect from the day you start planning through final delivery? We’ve got you (and your will) covered.



We start with an initial case assessment (or “ICA”). During your ICA, we will discuss your general estate planning goals and review some of the primary assets you have to consider. You will get to know our firm to make sure we’re the right fit for you, and we can begin to formulate a plan to meet your goals.


Once you’ve decided to hire Z Family Law, we will assign you a legal team, including an attorney and a paralegal or legal assistant, who will schedule an initial meeting with you to start the process of taking stock of all of your assets, and putting together a comprehensive plan to meet your goals. 


Next, your attorney drafts your will based on the considerations and components you’ve outlined.


At this stage, you’ll review the draft your attorney draws up and make revisions as necessary.


Once your edits are incorporated, it’s time to sign and notarize your will to enact it.


Last but not least, you can now file with the Register of Wills (if so desired).


Your will should act as a living document, and you should regularly update it as your circumstances evolve. We are always here to help with the process of bringing your will and other estate planning documents up to date, and we stay in touch after your initial time with us has concluded. Should you ever need referrals for additional estate planning or other professionals, we have you covered. 

Finding the Right Estate Planning Attorney in Maryland

Pondering death is undeniably difficult and daunting, so it helps to instead think about estate planning as a way to guarantee your loved ones’ security in the event of the unimaginable. And when your family’s future is on the line, it’s more important than ever to have a knowledgeable attorney by your side. At ZFL, our estate planning team is here to give you the valuable peace of mind you need — so you can live your life today without worrying about tomorrow. 

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