Bethesda Order of Priority

The order of priority describes which individuals have priority to serve as Personal Representative of the estate in estate administration in Bethesda in the event that a decedent did not leave a valid last will and testament. Often, it relates to the closeness of the familial bloodline, but it is important to set out the order of priority early in the estate planning process, so that someone’s assets are best protected. To help streamline the estate planning process and the determination of the order of priority in Bethesda, an experienced estate planning attorney is necessary.


What is commonly misunderstood is that priority to serve in Bethesda is not based on whether or not an individual had a better or worse relationship with the person that passed away. For example, the oldest child may believe that they have the right over the rest of their siblings to serve as Personal Representative.

While Maryland law often gives priority to children, it gives priority to all children equally. Birth order does not necessarily determine who has a greater or lesser priority to serve as a Personal Representative of the estate. Similarly, the nature or the quality of their relationship does not determine whether or not an individual has more or less priority to serve in Bethesda. Unfortunately, the quality of the relationship is often not determinative of who has priority to serve either.

It is often a strict rule with who has the ability to serve. Of course, if individuals would like to resign in favor of someone with lesser priority, that can sometimes be accomplished. Also, the court still has final say over who may serve. So, if an individual is not capable or is not qualified for some reason, the court looks to the next person who has priority to serve.

Distributions of Assets

The priority to serve does not come into play regarding the distribution of assets. Their priority is regarding the priority to serve. With the distribution of assets, the focus is on who is entitled to be an heir of the estate. They are similar but different. When an individual dies without a last will and testament and has assets in their sole name, those assets are distributed pursuant to the Maryland laws of intestacy. Maryland law determines who is an heir and what portion of the estate they are entitled to receive. These are strict guidelines or rules. The Personal Representative does not often or never has the ability to change who an heir is for the purpose of what they are entitled to receive.

For example, in the event that an individual died without a last will and testament, the spouse may be an heir. If the spouse and the decedent had children together, there is a specific amount the spouse gets and the children get. If the decedent had children separate from the spouse, those children are still heirs. However, they receive a different percentage based on the nature and the case facts. Distribution of assets when there is no will depends on Maryland laws of intestacy on who may serve, so the order of priority in Bethesda is not as applicable in this distribution, but it will be important in the rest of the estate planning process.