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Understanding the role of the probate judge

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2024 | Estate Administration & Probate |

If assets are left in your Maryland estate when you pass away, they will in most cases be subject to state probate laws. Your executor will start the process by presenting your will to a judge. Absent a will, someone close to you will initiate a probate proceeding on your estate’s behalf. The judge will then appoint an administrator and take other important actions while the case is open.

A judge will rule on creditor claims

Your creditors must be notified of your passing and given a chance to make a claim against your estate. In the event that a claim is denied, a creditor will be given a chance to appeal the decision, and the appeal may be heard in a probate court. The judge overseeing your case will then decide if the claim can proceed or not.

The judge will administer your estate

Assuming that there are no creditor or other challenges to your estate, the judge overseeing your case will facilitate the transfer of assets to beneficiaries. If you had a valid will, assets are allocated per the instructions in that document. Otherwise, the probate judge will allocate assets per state intestacy laws. In such a scenario, property will likely go to your parents, siblings and children by default. Your spouse may also get a share of any property that wasn’t covered by a will or trust.

A probate proceeding may take up to nine months to complete, and this timeline may be delayed depending on the complexity of the situation. For instance, the case may be delayed if the executor makes a mistake or parties to the proceeding disregard a judge’s order.