The Maryland probate process involves proving that a deceased person's will is valid and administering property or debts in accordance with the valid will. Depending on the amount of property or debt, the probate process can be complicated. The following information will help you work toward understanding the Maryland probate process.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that is signed by the decedent in front of witnesses. It describes how that person wants his or her property distributed after their death. It will also name the person who will be in charge of this process, the personal representative. A will may also describe who should serve as guardians of minor children. It may also set up a trust as well.
What happens if someone dies without a will in Maryland?
If you or a loved one dies without a valid will, then Maryland's intestate laws will be effective. Intestate laws dictate who should get property after someone's death. Usually, the closest living relatives, like spouses and children, will automatically receive any property that is left over after paying debts and taxes under Maryland law. Without a will, the decedent has no say in who will receive his or her property after their death—it is entirely determined by Maryland law. Most people do not want to leave their property distribution up to Maryland law, which is why they create a will.
Can you change or challenge a will after someone's death?
While you cannot change a will after someone has passed, you can challenge a will if you think it is not legally valid. In some cases, this can completely invalidate a will, which would trigger the intestate laws. In other situations, an earlier version of the will may be considered valid or a portion of a will could be determined invalid.
How long will the probate process take?
Most estates can be administered completely within one year. This may be surprisingly long to some, but it takes time to value assets, pay debts, and determine tax obligations. If there are any disputes about the will or about valuing assets, the process can take much longer as well. The estate must be open for at least six months for tax purposes.
How do I find out when my relative's estate is opened?
You can conduct an estate search with the Maryland Office of the Register of Wills to determine if a relative or friend's estate has been opened.
How do you open an estate in Maryland?
If the decedent had any property in his or her name alone, then an estate must be opened to administer this property. As long as the assets exceed the amount of debts, an estate should be opened as well. You will need several items to open an estate in Maryland, including the death certificate, will, and funeral bill. You will also need to complete some forms as well.
An experienced probate attorney can help you with the probate process from start to finish after the loss of a loved ones. Call The Tyra Law Firm at 301-315-0811 and let us guide you every step of the way to ensure your loved one's wishes are effectively carried out and that their estate will be protected from unnecessary challenges or financial drains.