Family law matters can be one of the most challenging experiences in a person’s life and hiring the right attorney can make all the difference.
Jessica Zadjura has firsthand knowledge of the hurdles families can face – she is the child of divorce, one of five siblings in a blended family, a wife, a mother, and a stepmother. Jessica’s life experience helps guide her clients through every step of the family law process, whether in or out of court. As a seasoned litigator, mediator, and child attorney, Jessica uses her personal experiences and years of legal knowledge to help you determine the ideal process for your family at Zadjura Family Law.
Jessica recently started her own practice to ensure her clients receive personal attention and are well-informed every step of the process.
One of her biggest advice for parents is to create an estate plan. Here’s her message to us!
An estate plan generally consists of 3 documents – a Will, a Power of Attorney, and an Advanced Medical Directive. Generally, a person needs an estate plan to prepare for the future – both their future self and to assist their loved one(s).
A Will is important as it directs your loved ones as to who will receive what items once you pass away and will minimize the conflict among family members. Additionally, if you have minor children, a Will can also direct who should manage the property they inherit from you until they are old enough to handle it themselves.
A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a 3rd party to manage your finances during your life in some or all circumstances. One example is if you are hospitalized and need your spouse to be able to pay bills on your behalf from a bank account that is not in the spouse’s name. Another example would be a military spouse overseas who cannot sign documents to sell a home. I even recently used my husband’s Power of Attorney to purchase a joint vehicle so that he could stay home and watch our sick child while I shopped!
An Advanced Medical Directive is essential because it allows you to appoint a 3rd party to make medical decisions when you cannot do so for yourself or to communicate your medical information to a designated 3rd party. One example would be if you were having surgery and the doctor needed permission from your agent to give you additional medicine that was not discussed before you were under anesthesia. Another example would be if you were in a devastating accident that left you unconscious when you required medical treatment that you could not consent to for yourself.
Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice from the University of Maryland. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law. In addition, Jessica has completed the 40-hour mediation training and the 20-hour mediation training in child custody and marital property, required by the Maryland Rules of Court to serve as a third-party neutral to mediate an array of family law matters. Jessica has also completed the best interest attorney training required by the Maryland Rules of Court to serve as a court-appointed child attorney. Since 2016, the Super Lawyers publication has recognized Jessica as a Maryland Rising Star in the family law practice area. She was also named to the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys’ Top 10 Attorneys Under 40 list in 2014.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is making a plan in advance, naming the people or organizations you want to receive the things you own after you die. A person’s estate includes all a person has – land, antiques, collectibles, cars, jewelry, financial assets, etc. A person’s estate is the net worth of their possessions minus any obligations such as outstanding loans and bills. Regardless of the size of the estate, it’s important to prepare how it will be distributed at the end of someone’s life.
1: Gather Information + Documents
Create a list of assets you own, including the name of the asset, any liability against each asset, the value of each asset, how it is titled (if appropriate), etc. If an asset can have a beneficiary designation, gather the forms to designate the beneficiaries. Create a master account list for your digital assets, including the account website, username, and password.
2: Make a Will + Appoint a Guardian
A Will is a signed statement that details how someone wants their property disposed of in the event of their death. This document may also appoint a guardian for your children should something happen to you and your child’s other parent.
3: Create Powers of Attorney
There are two types: 1) general power of attorney; and 2) limited power of attorney. A general power of attorney gives your agent the authority to act on your behalf regarding all personal and business financial matters for the duration and circumstances you dictate. Conversely, a limited power of attorney gives your agent the authority to act on specific individual and/or business financial matters for the duration and circumstances you dictate.
4: Determine an Advanced Medical Directive
Also called “advance directive,” “power of attorney for health,” “medical power of attorney,” or “living will’. The purpose of this is to have decided in advance who will make your medical decisions should you be unable to make them for yourself while you are still alive. Unless stated otherwise, an advance directive will go into effect when you are too ill to make medical decisions.
5: Update Documents after Big Life Changes
It’s recommended that each person, at minimum, review their estate plan every five years or when they experience a life-changing event (i.e., the birth of a child, adoption of a child, emancipation of a child, marriage, divorce, death of a close family member, etc.).
I typically recommend that we have a brief phone call of approximately 15 minutes to determine whether we are a good fit for one another, whether I can assist you in what you are looking for, to clear any conflicts of interest that might exist, and to set up a time to meet in person. Once that phone call occurs and you decide to proceed with my services, I will send you a retainer agreement to contract my services and submit payment. After you have done so, we will have an extensive meeting to go through your assets, liabilities, etc., and discuss the details of each document, including contact information for your personal representative(s) and agent(s).
Zadjura Family Law is located primarily in Annapolis, Maryland. Jessica is available to meet in person, by phone, or virtually as a potential or current client requests. Zadjura Family Law handles matters in various jurisdictions throughout the state, including but not limited to Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, and Montgomery Counties. Services include Family Law, which generally encompasses divorce, custody, child support, alimony, property division, protective orders, settlement agreements (pre-nuptial, post-nuptial, and divorce), and contempt/enforcement. Zadjura Family Law also provides Simple Estate Planning, which generally encompasses wills, powers of attorney, and advanced medical directives.
Zadjura Family Law is ready to help. Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation today.