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Is it safe to empty a house before probate?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2021 | Probate Litigation |

In Maryland, you can’t empty a house before probate, even if you’re the executor. Following the legal process for distributing the decedent’s estate is imperative to avoid problems and liability. Assuming that there are no contests over the decedent’s will, probate typically takes several months to a year. You should promptly complete all of the necessary tasks like filing the decedent’s taxes to prevent problems with dividing the estate. Missed deadlines could result in the state claiming the property.

Recognition as the personal representative

Maryland residents who are chosen as personal representatives of an estate need to request permission from the court to begin acting on the decedent’s wishes. Even when you are clearly designated as the executor, you need to follow the legal procedure. The reason for this is the court wants to verify that the will is legitimate. If someone contests the legitimacy of the will or the will is fraudulent, then the court may have to hold a hearing to determine who the personal representative is.

When the decedent didn’t choose an executor, the court will either assign one or make the decision on who gets a certain asset, such as the house. Either way, you need to wait until finishing the probate process to clear out the house. Probate could take three months or longer depending on the size of the estate and the complexity of the decedent’s wishes.

Mortgage payments

You have to pay mortgage payments on any real estate that the decedent left behind. The next owner of the house is the one who is directly responsible for making the mortgage payments. Remember to inform them that they need to pay the monthly mortgage. If the real estate increases in value during the probate process, the new owner may also have to pay capital gains tax.

After a loved one’s death, it’s natural to want to begin collecting some of their keepsakes that remind you of them. However, you must wait until completing the probate process to remove anything from their house.