Important Information and Links

                  Frequently Asked Questions

How many Maryland death certificates will I need?

If you have lost a family member, you will need a certain
number of death certificates in order to manage the transfer
of assets to the personal representative or to beneficiaries.  
However, you may not need as many as the funeral director
suggests.  Many funeral homes will advise you to order a dozen
or more copies, and they may charge you $20 or even $30 per
copy.   You should be aware that many times, you can present
or mail in an original death certificate to a financial institution
and ask that they make a copy and return the original to you.
You can order copies directly from the Vital Statistics
Administration, at a cost of $24 for the first copy and $12 for
additional copies.  So if you are being asked to pay hundreds of
dollars for copies of death certificates, the chances are that
this involves profit to the funeral director and may not be in
your best financial interest.


Health Care Decision-making

If you have executed a living will or advance directive, have
you ensured that health providers and family members will
know how to identify your health care agent in case of a health
emergency?

Maryland has not funded a law that was passed several years
ago about maintaining a registry for advance directives.  This
means it is all the more important that you communicate your
wishes when it comes to end-of-life decision making.  Be sure
that your health providers have copies of your health care
power of attorney, advance directive, or living will.  You can
also carry essential information with you in the form of a
wallet card, such as the one found here:  

Advance Directive Wallet Card  


Helpful Resources:


Estate Planning

"Do I really need a will?

Yes.  Each individual should create an individualized estate
plan.  If you do not make provisions for the
distribution of
your assets, the state will impose its
own statutory rules as to
who your beneficiaries should be.    These rules often do not
reflect the realities of individual families.  The Maryland State
Bar Association (MSBA) has published an article containing
more detailed information that is available online at Wills and
Estates
.




"Why do I need a power of attorney too?  Aren't they
similar
?"

A Last Will and Testament sets forth provisions to direct and
control the distribution of someone's assets after the
individual's death.  There may be a number of circumstances
(such as sudden illness or extended travel) during one's
lifetime that make it essential to have an alternate
decision-maker named to manage property on one's behalf.  A
properly-drafted durable power of attorney is the best way to
avoid the potential expense of a guardianship proceeding (a
guardianship proceeding is an ongoing legal matter requiring
the continuing supervision of a court).  For more information
on guardianships, see MSBA
Guardianship.


Nursing Homes

The decision about choosing a nursing home facility can be an
agonizing one.  The Office of the Maryland Attorney General
has prepared a helpful publication entitled "Nursing Homes:  
What You Need to Know."

see:   
Nursing Home Information


The above articles are intended to provide background
information only, and should not be interpreted as providing
legal advice.