Going through the probate process after a close relative or family member passes away is challenging yet necessary for the unwary. Probate is usually required when someone fails to plan or does minimal planning. At Edward S. Clay, P.A. Law Offices, we are here to help you through emotionally difficult times.

Keep reading to learn more about probate in Maryland.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the court process of transferring legal ownership of a deceased person’s assets according to the provisions of a will or intestate laws in the absence of a will. Probate law defines the procedures regarding the probate estate, which includes all property that the deceased person owned in their own name without a beneficiary designation. In Maryland, probate is required for most assets. An alternative is to own your assets in a revocable living trust. In that case, the estate would go to the beneficiary under the terms you dictated without needing probate.

How to Open a Probate Estate

Probate needs to be opened in Maryland in the county where the diseased person lived. Depending on the value of the estate, there are different filing procedures. The following documents are needed at the Register of Wills office for what is known as a “regular” estate:

  • Will (if any)
  • Death certificate
  • Surety Bond of the Personal Representative
  • Petition for Probate
  • Order of Publication
  • Acceptance of Duties
  • List of Interested Persons
  • Information Report
  • Inventory of Assets
  • Final Administration Account

An experienced attorney can help you make sure you have everything necessary for the process to go as smoothly as possible.

What Are the Next Steps?

Let’s take a look at what happens after a probate estate is opened:

  1. The personal representative (commonly known as “executor”) is responsible for inventorying, valuing, and, after paying taxes and claims, distributing the deceased’s property and assets.
  2. A probate fee will apply and is based on the value of the estate. It must be paid before the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.
  3. Once opened, the probate must remain open for at least six months to give anyone time to challenge the appointment of the personal representative or the will, itself. Unfortunately, the process might take even longer if the will is contested.

Generally, creditor claims against the estate must be presented to the personal representative within 6 months of the date of death. The distribution of assets to beneficiaries occurs only after the Orphans Court has approved the final administration account of the personal representative.

Are You Nominated as a Personal Representative?

You are not required to serve if you do not want to. If you would prefer not to serve as personal representative, you could simply notify the backup named in the will and complete a form noting that you are giving up your right to serve.

If you choose to serve, you would benefit from getting legal advice from a probate attorney. This will help you handle all the necessary paperwork and deadlines, avoiding potential snags.

Probate law can be an emotionally challenging topic. At Edward S. Clay, P.A. Law Offices, we provide high-quality legal services to our clients and their families. We have years of experience and a solid reputation. We will walk with you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.