Our Maryland Probate Attorneys compiled these frequently asked probate questions to answer common questions we receive from clients. If you would like to set up a consultation with one of our Maryland Probate Lawyers, please call us at (301)805-5892.
What is probate and should it be avoided?
Probate is the process by which a court supervises the distribution of probate property according to a verified will or the laws of intestate succession to those who will inherit a deceased person’s property. Probate property generally includes assets owned individually. The primary reasons for avoiding probate involve the costs and time associated with the process. In Maryland and DC, most probate proceedings take between 7 and 12 months for regular estates. For many estates, a valid will and individualized planning can minimize the impact of the probate process. However, estate plans effectively utilizing a trust can avoid probate and allow for distribution of assets without court involvement or delay, without disclosure of private financial information, can minimize and/or delay estate taxes for estates with assets (including life insurance) over the estate tax exemption, can provide for assets to be held in trust and distributed over a period of time, and can allow for the management of assets if necessary due to incapacity.
What happens if someone dies without a Will?
Without a Will, state laws of “intestate succession” kick in.
In MD, the following distributions would apply if you died without a Will*:
See MD Code Ann., Estates and Trusts §§ 3 -101 et seq. (2022) for a complete description of intestate distributions.
In DC, the following distributions would apply if you died without a will:
See DC Code Title 19, Chapter 3 for a complete description of intestate distributions.
If the intestate laws do not precisely reflect your wishes, a Will and/or a revocable living trust is necessary.
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