It can be very difficult when a family member or friend passes away; and, of course, handling of their estate is not an easy process. Here are some common questions we hear from our clients:
My relative didn’t have a will, what do I do?
For relatives that have a will, the estate is considered a “testate estate” that clearly outlines the rights of family members and who is appointed as personal representative. For those without a will, their Personal Representative is decided based on the order of priority in statute. This person is very important as they are the person who will represent the estate and communicate with entities like life insurance companies as the voice of the estate. It is important that if you believe that you should be the personal representative that you contact a lawyer right away.
What is the probate process?
Probate is the process of validating a will, which is typically completed by a Register of Wills and Orphan’s Court. Probate also involves identifying the property of the deceased, having that property appraised, paying off existing debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Each estate can be complex or fairly simple as it depends on the the number of beneficiaries and size of the estate itself. Probate can also become highly complex if there are disputes to the will or extenuating circumstances. Probate can take as short as a month or two for small estates and 10-12 months for larger estates.
Should I have a Lawyer for the probate process?
It is recommended that you have a lawyer to probate an estate as it ensures the estate is handled properly and no mistakes are made. The worst thing that could happen is attempting to handle probate internally and family drama ensues. It is also important that all bills are paid off properly before assets are divided to ensure that there are no problems later on. Hiring a lawyer for probate can give families peace of mind.
Does Maryland have any particular considerations we should think about?
Maryland is one of only two states that impose both an estate and inheritance tax. In general, Maryland is considered a high-tax state, so it is important that an estate is handled with great care to ensure both the estate and beneficiaries are not being taxed at a greater level than is needed.
Hiring a Lawyer
Here at Blackford & Flohr, we have handled many probate and estate management cases for our clients. If you need a lawyer to help you through the probate process in Maryland, please contact us online or give us a call at (410) 647-6677