are written directions regarding property distribution after death. A spouse and minor child may elect against a will to force certain distributions per the Maryland Code.

Beneficiary Designations and jointly owned property

Some assets, such as those covered by accounts or insurance policies with beneficiary designations and trusts, pass outside of a will.

Spousal Wills

These tend to be companion wills that mirror each other. Sometimes called “sweetheart wills”, these wills give everything to the surviving spouse. Families without wills ignore this critical planning technique at their own peril and when overlooked becomes problematic when there is no will and minor children.

Blended Family Spousal Wills.

These also tend to mirror each other but are often paired with trusts under the will or contractual will agreements to assure conformity after death.

Specific Bequests.

Designated items with designated beneficiaries. Careful drafting is needed to provide for issues that often arise such a pre-death gifting, loss of item prior to death or beneficiary predeceasing the will maker.

Residuary Bequest.

The balance after administration expenses, specific bequests. This bequest often carries the load as far as estate costs so a careful understanding of the will maker’s intent is needed.


You should name a guardian for your minor child(ren) in your will. Sophisticated will drafters will add provisions for visitation by grandparents.

Personal Representative or Executor.

You may designate an executor (personal representative) of your estate in your will, and eliminate their need for anything more than a nominal bond.