Estate Planning and What Happens When You Don’t With Victoria Kelly, Esq.

Philip Fish, CFP<sup>®</sup> and Estate Planning Specialist with Sandy Spring Trust

In this Professional Discussion Philip Fish, CFP® and Estate Planning Specialist with Sandy Spring Trust interviews local Estate Planning Attorney, Victoria Kelly. They discuss the challenges individuals and families can face from an old, poor or lack of an estate plan. Challenges focus around loss of control, frozen assets, poor medical care, family friction, higher taxes and assets being distributed out of alignment from the client’s wishes. Phil and Victoria also discuss why so many individuals fail to establish a strong incapacity and estate plan.

Guest Speaker: Victoria Kelly is an attorney with over 30 years of experience. Victoria helps families in Maryland and D.C. with estate planning through her firm, Victoria Eve Kelly, LLC, and also assists with tax controversies.

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    Estate Planning and What Happens When You Don’t With Victoria Kelly, Esq.


    Estate planning and what happens when you don’t.
    Presented by Victoria Eve Kelly, Esq.

    Sandy Spring Trust does not endorse nor recommend the services of any person or entity not affiliated with Sandy Spring Bank.  

    The opinions and statements expressed by Victoria Eve Kelly, Esq. reflect her own views and do not necessarily represent the views of Sandy Spring Trust.

    This material is provided solely for educational purposes by Sandy Spring Trust, a division of Sandy Spring Bank, and is not intended to constitute tax, legal, accounting or healthcare advice, or a recommendation for any investment strategy or transaction. You should consult your own tax, legal, accounting, financial or healthcare advisors regarding your specific situation and needs. Our staff will work closely with your advisors to coordinate your overall plan.  

    Sandy Spring Trust and the SSB logo are registered trademarks of Sandy Spring Bank. © 2021 Sandy Spring Bank. All rights reserved. 

    - Hello everyone. And welcome to Sandy Spring Bank, Real Life Matters, Professional Discussion Series. My name is Phil Fish. I'm a Certified Financial Planner and an Estate Planning Specialist with Sandy Spring Trust, and I'm the host of this Professional Discussion Series where I interview local professionals in the areas of law, tax, finance and healthcare on various topics. I'm very excited today to have Victoria Kelly join us today. She's an estate planning attorney. Now our topic today is estate planning and what happens when you don't? So we're gonna be talking about the importance of the documents that people have in place, and also the challenges and concerns that we see when people unfortunately don't have these documents set up properly. So, Victoria thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule. Before we get into our topic. Could you give us a little background on your practice and the type of work that you do within the community?

    - Absolutely Phil thank you for having me. And I do estate planning and tax work. I've been doing it for decades in various incarnations and currently present people, both for estate planning and for audits of course, and way in my background, I did tax preparation. I've also done litigation. And so I always think in terms of the worst case scenario, so I can help prepare my clients to avoid it. And I also have a real estate background, which helps when you're dealing with titling issues. And really I represent all kinds of people single and married, traditional nuclear families, blended families, a lot of people in tech. I also have contacts in the agricultural community to help with succession planning. So it's a practice with a lot of variety and I welcome all different kinds of people to it.

    - Wonderful, well thank you for taking time. And the topic we decided to discuss today is what happens when you don't do estate planning. And so we thought in our conversations before today, we thought we might take a few of the primary estate planning documents and give a brief description of them, but also then talk about what happens to a family and the clients, if they do not have these documents in place. So we're gonna start with the most popular and common estate planning document many people hear about is the will, but it's sometimes called the last will and testament. So why don't we start with a little background on what a will is, and then we can talk about what happens when people don't have a will in place, which you and I see more often than we wish unfortunately.

    - Yes, a will is a document with two main purposes to distribute your assets and if you have minor children to name a guardian for your children. Wills in every state are governed by law, which dictates the formalities when they're valid wills and when they aren't. And wills are very important first of all, because otherwise you do have an estate plan without a will. It's just a one that's dictated by the statute of your state, which may distribute a certain percentage through a spouse if you have one, another percentage to each child if you have one or more children, or if there's no spouse or children, the statutes may take us back to figure out who your ancestors are, et cetera, and distribute assets to them. But this may not be exactly as you would want to distribute your assets. So it's really better to control it by drafting a will. This is not a huge production. It's just a matter really of getting around to it. It's usually something that can be done. I've done them in as little as four days for someone who is sick in the hospital, I've had other planning that's gone on for a year or more when things have changed or more likely, people just are having trouble getting around to it, but it can be done pretty quickly and it's important. Aside from wanting to control who gets your assets. You also absolutely wanna name a guardian for your child. Now, a guardian that you name has to be approved by a court, but the court will grant great deference to the guardian that you choose. And I can certainly, in addition to talking about some of the confusion that's resulted when families didn't have, when a parents didn't have a will and the children's struggled to figure out who should get what, and in one case, the titling was very unclear and frankly, I had to sort through it pro bono because the family could never have afforded the kind of research that it would have taken to figure out how things would have been distributed. I can tell you about a couple who drew a blank when they tried to figure out who to name as a guardian, because there was no one on either side of the family that they can think of. And it was hard to come up with friends that were intimate enough to feel comfortable naming. And so it's another thing I can help you with because we'd all love to have someone in our family who was very eager to be there in case the children need them. There isn't always that person. So sometimes it's a matter of going to the next best and doing some negotiating, figuring out how to leave some additional assets to that person in trust for your child. Of course, in case they aren't gonna be able to afford to take on your child. These things can be worked out, but they do have to be thought through. So it's important to address that. So distributing your assets, naming a guardian, those are the reasons for a will.

    - And I think that's one of the challenges people face is once you start down the path of thinking about doing estate planning, the questions start to come up, who do I name as a personal representative in the will to settle my affairs? Who do I leave my assets to? How do I leave them? How do I handle if there's more than one child? Distributions, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, friends. Then the type of assets, what do we do with the beach house? What do we do if there's a business? It can get bumped down very quickly. And you and I both met people who have maybe tried two or three or even four times to do an estate plan and they just get stuck in the mud. And part of our roles, my role is an estate planning specialist. I'm not an attorney, but working with the trust division, we work with clients, attorneys, and we hold their hand and try and guide them through this process. Because I think the goal of today's discussion is to state, yes, it can be challenging figuring this out. Who's gonna be the guardian of the children? How are we gonna set these estate plans up? But the consequences of not having an estate plan are so much more severe and so much more disruptive to the family. Taxes can be much more significant legal fights can occur. Family fights can occur over who's gonna be handling what and who gets want. And the client can really leave a true disaster in their wake and they're gone so they don't see the consequences of the lack of action, but you know, what we try to do through every means we can is as they please, I know it can be difficult, but with help with professionals like you and me and others out there, you can, it won't be perfect, but it's gonna be a lot better than having no plan in place. But it is difficult. There are some difficult decisions that need to be made.

    - Yeah, there can be, there can be. And I would also make the point. There are professional fiduciaries in case your family doesn't have hot and cold running people are very eager to take on that position. And in terms of the consequences, I would mention that what can happen when there's no will, is that ultimately despite statutory provisions that may seem to distribute assets to those whom you might expect to distribute them to anyway, people who are important can end up disinherited. And it's something I've written about because it was an incident that relives itself in my mind, over and over of a man who came in to see me thinking that he had inherited his mother's small commercial building. And I had an impression looking at him that his life may not have been easy. I can't tell you to this day why. And as we looked into it, we found that his mother owned the building jointly with her sister. And had so for decades, probably long before this child her only child was born and the look of hurt on his face is something I will never forget, that mom didn't seem to care enough that mom didn't love enough to do this kind of planning for him. And I do wanna emphasize, this is an expectation that children have even very adult offspring, even offspring that had been on their own for a long time. They really do take it. It's their expectation that this is a responsibility their parents will fulfill and they feel hurt, they do take it personally when their parents don't seem to have cared enough to do this kind of planning. I've seen that reaction. So I think that's important to understand as well.

    - It can be very, we see the aftermath, you and I see the effects it has on the children, the fights among the children, the disappointment, the stress that, parents or even spouses or significant others or partners are trying to deal with the loss of a loved one. But at the same time deal with the unholy mess that is left. That could have been made easier, could have been made simpler, could have reduced the stress and the burden on the loved ones. And sometimes when I meet with clients, that's what I focus on is this is as much for the people you care about as it is for you, because you're gonna be relieving that stress. And the example of joint ownership is a great one because in addition to having a will, what's also critically important is having the appropriate titling of the client's assets to compliment the estate plan and to make sure that there is no disconnects or disruptions caused by joint ownership and beneficiary designations. Because some clients think the will controls everything. And it does not. It only controls assets flowing through that individual's name so upon death. So beneficiary designations, joint ownership many times can cause disruptions to a client's intent, just like the example you gave. So the will is a very, very important document. It's going to decide who handles your affairs when you pass away, who receives your assets, how those assets are received, it deals with, it might create trusts after you've passed away for young children or for individuals with special needs or individuals with health issues. It could list, as you mentioned, guardian's name for minor children, which is very important. So this document really revolves around control of the client's affairs when they pass away. And I guess the execution of their wishes is a good summary of what we're trying to do here. So that kind of gives us a very good idea of wills. And we might come back to it in today's conversation. The next topic under discussion is a financial power of attorney, which is gonna deal with lifetime decisions. You and I meet many times with clients say, "Hey, I've got my estate plan done, I have my will, I'm in good working order." It's like, "Where are your other documents?" They're like, "What other documents?" Like, well, this deals with when you pass away, what happens if you become sick and unable to handle your affairs? So why don't we give the audience a little background on what a financial power of attorney is? Some may know, but a lot of times there is confusion out there about these documents.

    - A financial power of attorney enables someone to step in to handle your financial affairs. Now you can delimit their authority in the document, or you can leave it and let it be more wide, you can let it be wider. Maryland has its own statutory form, power of attorney. It's an excellent power of attorney. I will normally add mention of a tangible, personal property to it, which would include the cars. The idea here is that your agent under this power of attorney can step in the usual events are, if you're sick, if you're in the hospital for some prolonged period of time, they can help pay some bills. They can make sure that your property is in working order. More to the point however, they can step in if you begin to lose capacity and people begin to lose capacity long before they are flat out incompetent. Now the financial power of attorney for Maryland allows you to name someone who can serve as your guardian, if you truly become incompetent, but incompetent is a low bar. And long before you become incompetent, you can lose capacity to the point for example, where you stop paying bills. And the phone service is cut off, which happened in a situation that I was involved in. And this person was not incompetent. If we had brought a proceeding to name a guardian, we would have failed, but he was losing capacity. And not only was his phone service being cut off, it got cut off twice, but his lawn went brown, but this is not a person who had named anyone who could step in and help him with his financial affairs. And unfortunately to a point where people start to lose capacity, they're not necessarily aware of it. Once the neurons stop firing properly, they can lose self-awareness. They can continue to believe that they're competent, even if there's evidence all around them, that they're struggling. So it really is best to execute these things when you are still competent and aware and can provide for that situation when you're not. Now, your loved ones may never need to use it. Your agent may never actually serve, but at least it's there and available.

    - It's a safety net that again, as you mentioned, if somebody just passes away, then we go from a client having competency to not being alive and we go straight to the will. But as people live longer, there are many scenarios where they might have a time where they need help. And so if somebody did not have a financial power of attorney in place, then what happens? With the will you said that the state kind of gets involved with a solution. I think a similar situation occurs for incapacity as well, but it's even more cumbersome and disruptive to the family.

    - Oh yes and if there's no will and property passes intestate, the statutes in the various estates are gonna be clear about who gets what it may not be what the person who just passed would have liked. And there can be uncertainties that arise, but that's a lot clearer and more straightforward than what happens when a person starts to lose capacity. And there's no one who can step in at that point it's going to be a real struggle for everyone. In terms of the estate, stepping in, you can call agencies that deal with problems of the aging. They are understaffed and overburdened. It isn't always clear what they can do. And I haven't necessarily heard that the outcome is satisfactory. If you try and step in and help the person who has not authorized you by power of attorney to help their reaction may not be welcoming, often isn't. And so the lights go out and the lawn continues to turn brown and they may not be taking out the garbage and so forth and so on. Now, financial power of attorney, I should make clear won't help you if the individual has medical problems that require intervention, that's gonna require a full-blown guardianship. But again, if you have a financial power of attorney got the opportunity to name the person who you'd like to step in if you have medical problems or require help with activities of daily living. So at the court will certainly give the person you name a deference.

    - But as you mentioned earlier, which is a very nervous thought, is that for a guardianship to occur where the state does get involved and assigns a guardian of the property that has to be full in capacities. So there are pretty strict guidelines on what an individual state needs to be in to qualify for that. Many individuals are not at that level, but are struggling with affairs are exposed to risk, to scams and identity and fraud and embezzlement. And personal attacks that are affecting their financial and overall well-being. But if they don't have the financial in place, then nobody has the legal authority to step in on their behalf financially, but then not sick enough yet to qualify for a guardianship, Then they're stuck in this middle gray zone that can be very harmful to, and it must be so frustrating for the family around saying, I need to help, but the bank won't give me information on my father's accounts, because I don't have a power of attorney. And when I go to the courthouse, they tell me what's required for a guardianship and dad isn't there yet. And so we stuck in that middle ground. So the importance of the client to plan for that transition from clear, thoughtful decisions to full-blown incapacity or death, that kind of gray area transition period. This is where that financial power of attorney becomes critical. And later on, we'll talk about a revocable living trust, which is just another way to do incapacity and testamentary planning for individuals, but for today's conversation, the financial power of attorney, even with a trust would still be needed because some things are handled by the powers of attorney, no matter what, whether a client has a trust or not. So a financial power of attorney is a very, very important document for every individual, no matter what, your age, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, on upwards, because we all may face a pit of incapacity and the same challenges will apply to all of us. There is no age issue where if you're below 50, things are easier, it's the same for everyone. So every individual, every adult should have these documents that we're talking about.

    - Exactly.

    - So you mentioned medical issues because we've handled the will with a testamentary. And when someone passes away, very important document, we talked about a financial power of attorney dealing with financial affairs when somebody becomes unable to handle their affairs, they may not be deemed fully incapacitated. They may just need help so that agent can step in and pay the bills, make sure the lights stay on, make sure the grass gets mowed, make sure the property taxes get paid. I mean, in the extreme, somebody could lose the house. If they don't pay their property taxes that they could in theory, be evicted from their own home. In a worst case scenario. On the medical side, if my father has passed on, but if he were alive and he became sick and I wanted to be involved in helping him with medical issues, there's another document, I believe it's a medical advance directive, which is made up of a couple of documents.

    - There are the terminology here is confusing. So I usually simply refer to it as an advanced directive and Maryland's got a version. There's no requirement to use it. Essentially what you're doing is saying, if I can't speak for myself, then for healthcare matters, for medical matters. I'm naming this person to speak for me. And I assured people when we prepare them that if you're sitting up in your hospital bed and your talking, there's no provider, who's gonna turn to your healthcare power of attorney to say, now, what should we do for Victoria? If you're communicating, there's no place for your healthcare power of attorney at that moment. But if you have difficulty communicating, if heaven forbid, you're crossing the street and you get hit by a car and you're unconscious, that agent can step in and speak immediately. If, and as these documents are written, they often contemplate end of life scenarios. So you can choose whether you want intervention at the very, very end of life when you're probably on your way and passing, or whether you want maximum intervention, which these days people really don't. But I think it's important to understand that maximum intervention is the way our healthcare providers are trained and it's their legal obligation. So if that's not something you want and most people after a certain point, really don't, then that needs to be expressed. And you need your healthcare agent to be able to communicate that for you.

    - In your experience, if somebody doesn't have these documents, I know there's HIPAA regulations, which are medical privacy laws. Have you found hospitals, doctors? Is there consistency? Are they very hotline? If you don't have these documents, we're not gonna talk to these family members. Do you find some hospitals and doctors to be a little more, willing to accept direction from other family members, if there are no documents in place, have you had any experience on that?

    - I have and I've had experience with when the directive is in place and not otherwise, but I do know, for example, in one case a woman's father had a health, a woman's father had always confided in her about his health issues and had relied on her feedback. Unfortunately, his directive named his current wife and she hadn't a clue. And ultimately, and apparently wasn't herself willing to step aside. So according to this man's daughter, a number of decisions were made that shouldn't have been until people figured out that the daughter was really best positioned to handle some of these issues. So what I can tell you is if the health directive is executed and names the wrong person, that's going to be a problem.

    - And I think what we always wanna stress too, is the importance of communication of these documents. Many times clients won't even tell the people that they've been named in these documents, or they won't tell them the location of the documents. And so there are breakdowns. So there really is a number of factors here is one having the documents in place, the wills, the financial powers of attorney, the advanced directives handling healthcare decisions. Again, if you're not able to provide them yourself, doctors and hospitals will always ask you, but if you're unable to convey your wishes, that's when these agents on the medical side will step in financial issues again. And we stressed, we find it's very good idea to share your medical advance directives with your primary physician, even your local hospital, they can scan them in. So they know in advance who your contact points are. Financial locations really like to have the financial positive, and they on file in advance. I work for a bank for the past 21 years. I've worked at Sandy Spring Bank, a local bank. We always prefer it if the client comes in and says, I'm naming my daughter, Julie, here's the documents I've just created with Victoria Kelly, my local attorney. And then we can have them placed on file. And then we can gather information on the daughter so we know who the decision maker is. If the decision maker walks in off the street, sometimes the documents can be accepted sometimes they can not. It varies from financial location to financial location. How old are the documents? A lot of factors come into play. So we really want to talk about communication with the decision makers who you've named. Make sure they know about the role. Make sure they're clear about your wishes. Make sure they don't, I've run across scenarios sometimes where clients will ask a family member to do a certain say medical direction and family member says, no, I'm not comfortable with that. So we need to make sure that they're comfortable with carrying out the wishes of the individual. That they know where the documents are located and that they know other information, where do you do your banking? Where's your financial locations? Where are your financial documents? Because when the incapacity occurs, these individuals are gonna have to come in and take on the role of the decision-maker. And it it's a lot of work. And if they have some communication, it can be a huge help to help them in that difficult assignment.

    - And the communication is important as well because a lot of these decisions are a matter of nuance, but not blacks and whites. From the testamentary trust in a will, what you'd like to see the trustee fund and what you might consider superfluous, a financial power of attorney. When you feel like some, your financial power of attorney should step in. I think everyone would agree they should step in, in the least intrusive way possible, but that's a discussion in advance and certainly for a healthcare power of attorney, a lot is left to the agent's discretion. So the document will outline guidelines, but then the nuance of how you decide certain situations is going to be something that's left to the healthcare agent. And the more you've communicated, the easier time they'll have feeling like they're really furthering your wishes and doing what you would have wanted. So yes, that communication is critical. The documents are the start for sure, because they're what give people authority to do this, that or the other, but the nuances of the, this, that, or the other are also handled with verbal communication because you can't cover everything in these documents. I mean, I try and draft them as clearly as I possibly can, but I can't cover every single situation. You'd have a document as thick as a book. So you really want to talk to your loved ones to let them know what you'd like.

    - And it's okay for these loved ones to have support. Many times we will, Sandy Springs Trusts in legal documents as trustee and personal representative. We also provide support to agents on the financial and medical side, working with care managers on the medical side to provide medical advocacy, helping individuals on the financial side, manage assets and pay bills and coordinate. So it's okay for these decision-makers and they should have a support system because one person can't do everything. Sometimes medical agents don't have a medical background, so they're gonna need help to kind of make some tough decisions. Financial agents sometimes don't have a strong financial background, or they may be in a whole different world, managing investments in mutual funds and IRAs that might not be as familiar with. And so when clients talk to me about who do I name, I say, name someone you trust and someone who you believe will look out for your best interest. As far as the knowledge base that can be supported, we can bring in legal counsel, tax counsel, financial counsel, medical counsel, to help them carry out their role. And to be honest, even you or I would need help if we were named for a family member and a fiduciary role, because you can't be an expert in all fields, it just isn't going to happen.

    - Oh, absolutely. And I worked recently with a family that thought very highly of a son he'd been very successful, has a lot of know-how and named him for multiple fiduciary positions. And we discussed it. They were firm that this was the person they wanted to name. I said, well then in addition to the probate attorney, I'm going to recommend that you let your son know that he should consider hiring counsel that is experienced in advising fiduciaries, because there's a potential welter of conflict of interest that he may encounter when he's trying to make so many decisions for so many different people when he himself is a beneficiary. So, it's important to reach out for help. Absolutely.

    - And with a good support system, many times I run across clients who are struggling with their estate planning documents, because they don't know who to name and Sandy Spring Bank can be named in certain roles. We can be positioned to provide support to loved ones, to ease the burden off their shoulders. We can coordinate with the client's estate planning attorney and their tax people and really provided a turnkey solution to assist. But it all starts with having a plan. These documents grant the authority. And so without that, it's kind of having a door that's locked. And the people that you care about can't enter the room to help. The will, the financial power of attorney, the medical advance directives. They provide keys to gain access and to provide control. And if the client hasn't done that, then we're stuck with what we talked about dying without a will, going through intestate. I think incapacity is the really bad one because if the client doesn't qualify for guardianship, then they really are exposed and are at risk. And their life will not be good. And the family may not have the legal means to do what needs to be done to protect them because financial locations will not allow a non-client access to a client's accounts without proper legal documentation, either a guardianship from the court or financial powers of attorney or a trust that they're comfortable accepting. No matter how dire the situation we can't break those rules, they're set. And clients get very upset. They're like my dad needs help. The water is about to be turned off, his power is about to be turned off and I need to access his accounts. And then family members are sometimes pulling funds from that own personal funds to cover these bills because they're desperate. And it's a huge mess. So, we've covered a lot today. We've talked about the importance of wills, the importance of financial powers of attorney, the importance of medical advance directives. It all comes back to control, gaining access, honoring your wishes. Having people positioned who have the legal authority to honor your wish when you can no longer make those decisions. The Revocable Living Trust. That's just spend a few moments just talking about that. We've referenced a couple of times, it's kind of another path to do a lot of the things we've talked about on the financial side. So can you give us a quick synopsis on that? 'Cause I know there's some confusion on, these revocable living trust, living trusts, rev trusts, you know, there's a lot of different terminology out there.

    - Yeah there is. A revocable living trust, revocable interviewers trust. These are testamentary substitutes, there's substitutes for a will. They tend to be more elaborate. They are funded, meaning that you name your assets to them, you title the assets in the name of the trustee of the trust, which is going to be your name if it's a revocable living trust. But the advantage is that those things titled in the trust name pass to whomever the trust tells you, whomever the trust dictates they pass immediately without going through probate. So even though probate in Maryland tends to be a highly overrated evil, as far as probate goes, it tends to be pretty quick. It still can a year and a trust within days can distribute assets. So there is that advantage to it. A will also once probate, it becomes a public document. A Trust is private. Now, if you're not a celebrity, how important is that? Probably not that important, but if you have inquisitive family members, inquisitive neighbors, I heard from one attorney who works in a lot of small rural communities and neighbors will know what's in your will once it's probated. So the trust for privacy offers that advantage. If you would rather people, the beneficiaries of the trust, not know exactly what they might or might not be receiving. You can work it out so that you can make that a little bit more private as well. In addition to which a trust offers an additional layer of incapacity planning. If you wanted to, you can name a trust protector who can remove the client, remove the person who created the trust, the grand tour as the trustee and substitutes someone else to exercise control, if that becomes necessary. And again, these trusts are often written so that the trustee will exercise the new trustee. The substitute successor trustee will exercise the minimum control over the assets necessary. So a trust offers a greater nuance of incapacity planning than a power of attorney would, but it's complimentary because there's certain things that aren't gonna be funded to the trust, like social security, for example. In addition, and the last advantage I'll refer to is that if you have property out of state, it's best to have a trust because otherwise, if you have a will, you've got to open a probate in the state that you live in and then open an ancillary state in the other state where your property is located. So you can fund all those properties to a trust and not have to deal with a probate in another estate. There are some advantages. And so it's worth considering.

    - Yeah and we work as trustee of trust. And again, if they're set up well, they can be a very nice tool. We find many clients will work with an attorney and do a trust, but then not title the assets properly, which again, it goes back to kind of the same issues we've been talking about, having the right documents, making sure the assets are titled in the right way. Communication with the decision makers, the trustees, the agents, the personal representatives, communication with the financial locations to make sure the assets are set up in the right way. And beneficiary designations are coordinated. And this is why you and I, and other professionals in the estate planning field stay very busy because it is a little complicated, but with the right navigator. And that's kind of the role you and I and the others serve in the community is helping clients navigate through this. Starting at point A working with clients, figuring out where they're trying to get to point B and then talking about the different ways to get their wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical advance directives, who do you name? You can't just name one person. You have to name backups in case the person you've named is unable to serve and it can get overwhelming. And so yours and my role is to gently but firmly take the hand of these clients and guide them and say, well okay, I know it gets a little rough now, we're going through a little rough patch, but the skies will clear and the sea will get calmer in a little bit, but you, and I see the deep breath of relief that occurs when clients get to the end of the journey and they know they've got a good strong estate plan, a good, strong incapacity plan in place. They know that their affairs are gonna be honored, and they know that their wishes are gonna be carried out and their assets will be protected during an illness and dispersed. And that's kind of the work that you and I do out there in different ways, but in symbiotic ways. So these documents are important if you need how we're gonna be, Victoria's contacts information will be at the end of today's program as well mine, if you have questions, reach out to Victoria or your estate planning attorney or somebody, but please do make sure these documents are in place. If they're old, they need to be reviewed and maybe updated. If you've moved to a new state, they might need to be reviewed 'cause state laws can be a little different as you move to a different location. So before we wrap up today, Victoria, thank you so much. This was a wonderful conversation about what happens when we don't have an estate plan. Are there any final comments you'd like to share with our audience before we wrap up today's conversation?

    - Only that it sounds more complicated in the abstract. Than it becomes as you through the process. And I remember one client saying, thank you. You really made this simple. Now her affairs were no more complicated or simple than anyone else's. It's just that. I think she had this notion when she first started that it was overwhelming and she discovered as we went through it, that it really wasn't. There are certain options and we'll discuss the benefits and burdens of each and they really do become clear. And so I do wanna assure people of that. It can seem overwhelming to start with, as we go through the process, it's a little like the description of sculpting as chipping away at the excess marble. As you chip away, the outline of your estate plan really does become clear. So I do wanna assure people of that and it doesn't have to be, it isn't overwhelming. It doesn't have to take forever. You just kind of have to get down to do it.

    - Yeah, and so thank you on behalf of Sandy Spring Bank and the Trust Division. Thank you Victoria, for taking time today, out of your busy schedule. As I mentioned, we'll be sharing Victoria's contact information at the end of today's program on the exit screen along with mine now on behalf of Sandy Spring Bank, my name is Phil Fish with our Trust Division. Thank you for joining us today. If you know this, when you logged on to our discussion series, we did not even ask your name, there was no registration, this is a community program. And so I host different conversations with professionals in law, tax, finance and healthcare. We place them on our main website at And you do not have to bank with us to join our conversation. So please share information about these programs with others, family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, both locally and around the country. And we hope you enjoyed today's program. I also host a seminar discussion series on our seminar library on the website. Where I talk in more detail about some of these issues on those seminar programs, we do ask for your name and how you heard about the event, but no one will contact you unless you ask us to contact you. So if you do bank with us, thank you. Sandy Spring Bank's been around since 1868 with the largest oldest community-based bank in our region. And it's an honor. I've been with the bank now 21 years. And so it's a pleasure to work here. So if you bank with us, thank you for doing so. If you don't bank with us, I hope you might consider Sandy Spring Bank for any of your needs. On behalf of Victoria and I, we hope you're all safe. Please take care. Now on behalf of the bank, have a wonderful day.

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