Maryland Wills & Trusts

About Administering Estates in Maryland
If a person dies with assets in individual name, where is the estate opened?


The estate should be opened in the county (or City) where the decedent was domiciled (generally where the primary residence was located).


Who is responsible for opening an estate?


If there are assets in the decedent’s sole name, the estate proceedings are opened by the person(s) named as Personal Representative(s) under the decedent’s Will (and any Codicils). If the decedent left no Will, Maryland Law determines who has the highest priority to be appointed Personal Representative.


What happens to property subject to probate?


The Personal Representative is responsible for identifying probate assets (assets in the sole name of the decedent), filing the necessary forms and tax returns required by Law, paying from the estate assets administration expenses, valid creditor claims (including funeral expenses) and taxes (if there are any), and making distribution of the remaining assets to the proper beneficiaries under the Will if there is a Will or to the decedent’s legal heirs under Maryland Law if there is no Will.

How long does an estate going through probate have to remain open?


Generally, unless the estate includes real property which needs to be sold, requires the filing of a U.S. Estate Tax Return, or is tied up in litigation, a regular estate proceeding may be closed after the period for filing creditor claims expires (six months from the date of death). If there is a Will and/or Codicil, a regular estate may be closed after the time for challenging the Will and/or Codicil(s) expires (six month from the appointment of the Personal Representative). Many regular estates are closed and final distributions made within one year of death.

Are there simplified probate proceedings?


Yes, if the probate assets are less than $30,000 in value ($50,000 if passing to a surviving spouse), the estate may qualify for statutory “small estate” proceedings which are often closed within two months. In a small estate proceeding no Inventory is required to be filed and no Administration Accounts need to be approved by the Orphans’ Court. There is also a streamlined procedure called “modified estate administration” which allows an estate to be closed within ten months of the appointment of a Personal Representative and requires no Orphans’ Court involvement. Not all estates qualify for small estate proceedings or for modified estate administration and this may be discussed with the Register of Wills’ office.


What is an insolvent estate?


An insolvent estate is an estate where there are insufficient probate assets to pay family allowances, administration expenses, funeral expenses and all valid creditors of the estate.

Does every estate that is opened have to involve the Orphans’ Court?


If there is a dispute involving the estate, Orphans’ Court judges conduct hearings to resolve that dispute. Orphans’ Court judges also are responsible for approving Administration Accounts required in regular estate proceedings and (except for limited situations) acting on Petitions requesting payment for Personal Representative’s Commissions and/or Attorney’s Fees. However, if there are no disputes requiring a hearing before the Orphans’ Court, the Personal Representative and beneficiaries (or heirs) may have no direct contact with the Orphans’ Court judges.


About Maryland Wills and Codicils

Administering Maryland Estates


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