The Three Most Important Pieces of an Estate Plan

June 16th, 2016
June 16th, 2016

Eleanor Hunt, senior counsel at the Firm, recently discussed wills, trusts, and related estate-planning topics on “Your Future Your Finances,” a television show that aired in Montgomery County, Md., on MMC Channel 16.

Hunt, who represents clients in the areas of family law and estate planning, told the show’s moderator, Brian Kuhn, that a basic estate plan for most individuals consists of three documents – a will, a financial power of attorney, and an advance medical directive.

Hunt noted that although these documents are very important for people to have, a surprisingly large number of people fail to have them prepared. She pointed to the recent passing of Prince, who died without a will, as an example of a celebrity who did not take care of these key matters.

She said that perhaps some people feel that it’s taboo to talk about death and that some people have the idea that preparing these documents might hasten their death.  She also said that many people “are misinformed about a will and about what protection it provides.”  If people, on their own, try to express their advance wishes about their property or their medical treatment without following the legal formalities set forth in the Maryland law, and without the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney, then third parties such as financial institutions and hospitals may not adhere to their wishes, let alone the courts in Maryland and elsewhere.

Hunt also said that in many cases, a trust, which transfers ownership of property to a trustee who holds the property for the beneficiary, can function as an alternative to a will in disposing of property after death.  She said that a trust will avoid the probate process that occurs when there is a will and that it can be a speedier, more efficient process. In addition, a trust is well adapted to a situation when a person owns real property in a state other than his or her residence.  If that person dies with a will, there would need to be an ancillary probate proceeding opened in that other state.

Finally, Hunt said, another advantage of a trust, from some people’s perspective, is that it never becomes public.  After a will is admitted to probate, it becomes public record.

The video of Hunt’s interview can be found at and


Contact Eleanor Hunt

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


The JGL Law Blog is made available by the Firm and/or the law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law. The JGL Law Blog is not designed to and does not provide specific legal advice. Use of, or comments on, this Blog does not create an Attorney Client Relationship with the Firm or any of the authors of the Blog Posts.

This blog is for general informational purposes only. Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA is a law firm and some of the information on the blog relates to legal topics. Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA does not offer or dispense legal advice through this blog or by e-mails directed to or from this site. By using the blog, the reader agrees that the information on this blog does not constitute legal or other professional advice and no attorney-client or other relationship is created between the reader and Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA or its attorneys. The blog is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed in your state. The information on the blog may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct or up-to-date. While the blog is revised on a regular basis, it may not reflect the most current legal developments. The opinions expressed at or through the blog are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney. The JGL Law Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in Circular 230, we inform you that any tax advice contained on this site (including any links provided) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.