When Maryland residents pass away, their estates will likely need to go through probate. This is a legal process through which the court ensures that the provisions of a will are followed. When a person dies without a will, the court will oversee the distribution of the estate under the state’s intestacy laws.
What is the probate process in Maryland?
If a person dies with a will, the named executor in the will must file it with the court. If the person died without a will, the court will appoint an administrator to administer the estate after a petition to open probate is filed. The court will review the will and validate it. Interested parties can object to the will. If there are objections, the probate process can take much longer.
Once the probate case is opened, the executor or administrator must publish a legal notice in the local paper for several weeks. The executor or administrator must inventory the estate, identify and value the assets and property, and identify the outstanding liabilities. Creditors may file claims, and the executor or administrator is responsible for paying the outstanding debts out of the estate’s proceeds. A tax return must be filed, and any taxes owed must be paid. All of these things must be completed before the property can be distributed under the terms of the will or the intestacy laws.
Most estates must go through the probate process in Maryland. However, smaller estates worth up to $50,000 might be able to go through an expedited process instead of full probate. People might also be able to avoid probate by creating revocable trusts. Property and assets held in a revocable trust will be distributed to the trust beneficiaries directly outside of the court. People can also take advantage of beneficiary designations on their retirement accounts, checking accounts, and life insurance policies to transfer those assets directly outside of the probate process.