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Can you empty properties before commencement of probate process?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2021 | Probate Litigation |

The Maryland probate process is designed to formally deal with carrying out the wishes of a deceased individual. Formal probate is not always required when an individual dies in Maryland. However, if there is a last will and testament or a certain amount or types of assets not otherwise distributed, the probate process is necessary. Many questions surround probate, including whether you can empty out a property’s content before the commencement of the probate process?

Removing property in advance of probate

The direct answer to the question of removing property from a residence or other location owned by a deceased individual before the start of probate is “no.” If an estate is subject to the probate process, you cannot begin to empty items in a property before that procedure starts. The bottom line is that you lack the legal authority to take such steps before the probate process has commenced.

Exigent circumstances or an emergency

If some sort of exigent or emergency circumstances exist and personal property in a residence may be in peril, taking more immediate action to protect those items may be permissible on a limited basis before the probate process itself formally starts. Having said that, this type of scenario serves to underscore the importance of initiating the probate process as soon as reasonably possible following an individual’s death. Moreover, the extent to which personal items can be removed from a property is limited to relocating them to ensure their security and prevent them from being damaged in the interim before probate proceedings commence. Such items cannot be distributed or given to other people before the commencement of the probate process.