The Client
Comes First
The Client
Comes First
The Client
Comes First
The Client
Comes First
Willis & Henderson, P.A., has substantial experience
in estate planning, and can assist you in carrying
out your wishes after death, with the least tax
consequence possible.

This is accomplished by having a valid will, and
perhaps a living trust, and/or an irrevocable life
insurance trust, or through other, more sophisticated
techniques. Wills, trusts, and powers of attorney
are discussed below.


Transfer of your assets after death is governed either
by your will or by statute if you don’t have a will. In
order to prevent the State from deciding how your
property is disbursed upon your death, you will need a
will. If your estate warrants it, you may also need
other estate planning devises, discussed below.

A will can be a very flexible document, disposing of
your assets as you wish, setting up trusts to take care
of family members after your death and to take
advantage of any federal death tax exclusions or
credits to which you may be entitled.

A will must be probated, however, resulting in some
delay in the disbursement of assets. Also, your will
becomes public record when it is probated. If your
assets are sufficient to warrant it, and expediency and
privacy are concerns, you may want to consider a
living trust discussed below.

Living Trusts

If you have substantial assets, and you are interested
in avoiding probate, or in privacy, a living trust may
be appropriate for you. Your property is conveyed to
the trust, is managed by the trustee (which will be you
until your death or disability) and, upon your death,
the successor trustee named in the trust disburses the
assets as specified by you in the trust.

A trust is not admitted to probate, meaning that the
terms of it are private, and the trustee does not need a
court order to convey any of the property.

A living trust also has the advantage that if you own
real estate in another state, your personal
representative will not need to open an ancillary
estate in that state in order to transfer the property, so
long as the property has been transferred to the trust.

Although a trust may save some probate costs, the
value of the trust is still part of your gross estate,
meaning you do not save any taxes. Also, the trust
does not protect your assets from your creditors, and
any income from trust assets flows directly through to

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

If the amount of tax paid by your family upon your
death is a consideration, an irrevocable life insurance
trust may be appropriate for you.

This type of trust holds life insurance policies, and is
the beneficiary of the policies. Upon your death the
trust receives the proceeds, which provides a source
of ready cash to pay taxes or to buy assets from your
estate (or your trust) at fair market value, and then sell
them in due course, rather than placing your estate in
the position of selling the assets in a hurry to raise

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone
now who will take care of your affairs if you become
incapacitated in the future. Your family would
otherwise need to go to court to have a guardian
appointed, and that person would be answerable to the

The person you name is called your attorney-in-fact,
and has whatever powers you give him or her in the
power of attorney. All estate plans created by Willis
& Henderson include a power of attorney as part of
the price.

Advance Directive

An advance directive, sometimes known as a living
will, is necessary to instruct your family and your
doctors what to do in the event you are hospitalized
and are unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

This document appoints a person to make those
decisions for you, and provides information to the
doctor and that person what your wishes are as to life
support, pain medication, and other related things.
Every estate plan created by Willis & Henderson
includes an advance directive as part of the price.
Willis & Henderson, P.A.
Attorneys at Law
3290 North Ridge Road
Suite 210
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Wills and Trusts