Everyone has heard the word “probate” and understands it relates to inheritance. Most people, however, do not know how probate works or how it may apply to them. Maryland residents facing a probate case should understand what probate is, how it works, and how much it costs.
What is probate, and how does it affect me?
Probate is a legal action that upholds the terms of a will. When people write a will, they give their family a roadmap of how they want their affairs handled after they are gone. The will contains instructions on paying off debts and distributing assets. It will also appoint a person, the executor, to carry out these duties.
The executor will file the will with the court, and the process will begin. For most estates, probate will take about six months to complete. If there are problems finding assets, locating heirs, or any disputes, the time can increase until these issues are resolved.
How much does probate cost, and who pays for it?
Many factors will determine probate costs. Fees would include administrative costs, including fees for the executor, debts that must be paid, and if there are additional fees such as having assets appraised, finding lost heirs, or fighting disputes.
On average, when no additional costs are necessary, probate costs about three percent of the total value of the assets. These costs are paid directly from the estate. Heirs are not required to make any payments to receive their inheritance.
The best way to reduce probate costs is to have as much of your affairs in order before filing the will and starting the probate process.