Ask the Experts: Seniors & Aging

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Front row: Jeanne Reavey, Jay Eisenberg, Bonita Stiles | Back row: Laura Shockley, Marilyn Green, Patrick Howley, Justin DeVault, Dee Barsy. Courtesy photo

Shulman Rogers


12505 Park Potomac Ave., Sixth Floor     
Potomac, MD 20854


Phone: 301-230-5223



Q: I have owned my house for many decades. Should I transfer it to my children before I die so that they can avoid probate?

A: If you transfer your house to your children during your lifetime, you transfer your tax basis in your house to them as well. This means that when your children eventually sell your house, they will pay capital gains tax on the difference between the sales price and the price you paid for the house. Instead, if your house passes to your children upon your death, the tax basis will be “stepped up” to the value on the date you die and the capital gains tax will be greatly reduced or eliminated. 

Q: I have been advised to add transfer on death (TOD) designations to my financial accounts. Should I do this?

A: You must be certain you understand the effect of any beneficiary designation that you execute. Although adding a TOD designation can efficiently transfer an account at your death without probate, doing so may have unintended consequences.  All beneficiary designations should be discussed with your attorney to confirm that they are consistent with your overall estate plan.

Q: Do I really need financial and health care powers of attorney? Can’t my spouse and children make decisions for me if I am incapacitated? 

A: If you become incapacitated, the only person who can make decisions for you is the agent you appoint in your financial and health care powers of attorney.  If you do not have these important documents, upon your incapacity, your family will need to petition the Court for guardianship to make decisions for you. 

Specializing in Estates, Trusts and Probate; Tax Law; Succession Planning; Charitable and Exempt Organizations. Attorney recognitions: Fellow of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel; Washingtonian Top Estate Planning Attorneys; Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Rising Stars.

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