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. Accordingly, probate and estate management can seem overwhelming. It’s important to work with an experienced Maryland probate attorney to ensure all of your loved one’s wishes are honored and their estate is settled legally and properly.
Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is settled and distributed to their heirs and beneficiaries. Estate management is the process of managing a person’s assets, debts, and final affairs after they pass away.
During probate, a court supervises the distribution of the deceased person’s assets according to their will, or according to Maryland law if there is no will. The executor or personal representative of the estate is responsible for managing the estate during probate, including paying off any debts, filing tax returns, and distributing assets to the heirs and beneficiaries.
Estate management involves a broad range of tasks, including locating and securing the deceased person’s assets, determining the value of those assets, paying off any outstanding debts or taxes, and distributing assets to the heirs and beneficiaries according to the will or Maryland law.
Overall, probate and estate management can be complex and time-consuming processes. It is often advisable to work with an experienced probate attorney or estate management professional to help navigate these tasks and ensure that the deceased person’s wishes are carried out as efficiently and smoothly as possible.
Here are some common questions we hear from our clients:
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.
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.
Legally, an estate refers to the sum total of an individual’s assets, liabilities, and property rights at the time of their death. The term encompasses all assets owned by the individual, including real estate, personal property, investments, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and any other assets.
An estate can be created through a variety of means, including by will, trust, or intestacy (when a person dies without a will). When a person dies, their estate enters into the probate process, which is the legal process through which their assets are distributed to their heirs and beneficiaries.
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.
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. A Maryland probate lawyer can help you with the intricacies of this process.
Here at Blackford & Flohr, we have handled many probate and estate management cases for our clients. If you need a Maryland probate lawyer to help you through the process, please contact us online or give us a call at (410) 647-6677. We serve clients throughout Maryland, including Montomgery County, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, and more.