Almost 75% of Americans do not have a will, and 92 percent of adults under age 35 do not have one.

Most people assume they will automatically inherit any assets their parents leave behind. However, without a will, “dying intestate”, those assets can be held in probate court and distributed according to Maryland law. Consequently, if you wish to eliminate potential issues, speak to an estate planning attorney about wills and trusts. Additionally, wills and trusts are important. However, naming people who should make your financial or medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated, are the most important documents.

Here are the three main documents we recommend:

• Will: create a will as soon as you start acquiring assets or start a family. Assets can be left outright to beneficiaries or through a trust. A will also names personal representatives (administrators), who manage the assets until they're distributed to inheritors. Also, if you have children, under 18, your will should designate guardians in case both parents pass away

• Durable power of attorney: This document grants your spouse or other party the power to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

• Healthcare power of attorney: This grants the power to make medical decisions, including end-of-life decisions if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate those decisions yourself.

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