Probate procedure in Maryland is determined by the value of the estate. Regular estates require appointment of a personal representative and the complete probate process, as opposed to small estates, which are allowed abbreviated probate procedures. The entire process for both regular and small estates is explained by the Maryland Registry of Wills for individuals who want to navigate the probate process without attorney representation.
Determine whether the estate is considered a small or a regular estate under Maryland law. A regular estate has a value of $30,000 or greater, or $50,000 or greater if the surviving spouse is the sole heir. Value is determined by the fair market value of all of the deceased's property minus all known debts. Regular estates must proceed through the probate process in the Maryland Orphan's Court. Small estates may be dispensed with through a simpler process called Modified Administration, which requires the consent of all of the heirs.
Read More: What to Do With a Will After a Person Dies in Maryland Probate
Petition the Maryland Orphan's Court to be designated as personal representative to oversee the probate process, if it is a regular estate. Once appointed by the court, you must file a Petition for Administration and Schedule A, along with the will and any amendments to it, with the Orphan's Court in the county in which the deceased lived when he died. Forms are available from the Maryland Registry of Wills, or from the registry's website.
Post a bond to act as the estate's personal representative. Post the bond at the same time you open the estate. The bond requirement cannot be waived by the terms of the will.
Publish the Notice of Appointment appointing you as personal representative in a local newspaper for three consecutive weeks. The notice allows any interested party to protest the appointment, and serves as notice to creditors that it is time to file any claims against the estate. Creditors must file their claims within six months of the decedent's death, or within two months of receiving notice of the decedent's death.
Create an inventory of all the property the decedent owned by himself. Also include property he owned with someone else, which normally passes to the decedent's heirs and not to the co-owner. Assign fair market value to each item in the inventory. Create an information report containing any property that will pass to another person outside of the probate process, including pension and insurance benefits.
Pay the estate's debts and expenses. File tax returns and pay taxes, including a return for the estate and a personal income tax return for deceased's last living year.
File a first accounting with the court within nine months of opening the probate proceeding. The accounting must include all business conducted in an effort to close the estate.
Distribute all property in the estate according to the terms of the will. Leave the estate open for six months after distributing all property. This waiting period allows any other interesed party, such as a creditor, to come forward and file a claim against the estate. After six months, the estate is considered closed and the probate process officially ends.
An attorney for more than 18 years, Jennifer Williams has served the Florida Judiciary as supervising attorney for research and drafting, and as appointed special master. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Jacksonville University, law degree from NSU's Shepard-Broad Law Center and certificates in environmental law and Native American rights from Tulsa University Law.