Laws of Intestacy in Maryland

The laws of intestacy in Maryland refer to what happens to a person’s assets if they die without a will. Generally, the assets will go to their next of kin. However, if they have no surviving spouses or parents, it may go to further relations. A well-versed probate lawyer can help guide you through the laws of intestacy.

How Assets Are Distributed

The titling of assets and the use of beneficiary designations can greatly alter the distribution. Assets will be distributed in one of four ways following the death of an individual. The first way assets pass is by beneficiary designation. Retirement accounts and life insurance policies often have a named beneficiary. Therefore, the assets pass pursuant to the beneficiary designation rather than through an individual’s estate. Second, assets pass pursuant to their ownership. For example, bank accounts that are titled jointly with another individual pass by operation of law rather than through an individual’s estate. A third way assets may pass is pursuant to trust provisions if they have been prefunded into a trust. Finally, the fourth option is that assets that do not pass in the other three ways pass pursuant to a decedent’s will or the laws of intestacy.

Therefore, coordinating an individual’s assets is essential to the estate planning process. For example, it is possible for a person to leave all of their assets equally to their children. However, if one child is the joint owner or the beneficiary of an asset, then the will may not govern the distribution of the asset.

Familial Relations and the Laws of Intestacy

Surviving family members would most commonly be a surviving spouse, children, parents, and siblings. Those are the most common familial relations, but familial relations can be more distant if these individuals are not surviving or if a decedent does not have a spouse or children.

If a decedent who does not have a spouse and was never married, does not have children, and does not have surviving parents or siblings, the next set of family members who could be considered heirs would be any nieces and nephews and the descendants of those nieces and nephews. Depending on who else is living at the time, or the family circumstances of the decedent, familial relationships can become remote.

When Would a Person’s Children Not Receive Assets?

A decedent’s children could be barred from receiving estate assets if the decedent created a will and did not name them as beneficiaries. Another situation would be in an intestacy situation where the decedent dies with no will. In this case, the children would not receive any estate assets if there are no assets to pass on. If the decedent left no will and all of their assets had either a joint owner or had beneficiary designations other than their children, then the children would not receive anything. All the assets are disposed of in a different way according to the law.

When Assets Would Go to Maryland

The decedent’s assets will be awarded to the State only if there are no surviving heirs. This would mean that the decedent had no surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, or other descendants of their maternal and paternal grandparents. It is common for jurisdictions to have a statute in a place where the state would receive the assets if there are truly no other surviving heirs.

Costs Associated with Administering Assets Without a Will

Regardless of whether there is a will, there will be administrative costs when probate is involved. These costs will include court costs, any costs of an attorney who has been hired to represent the personal representative, funeral expenses, and any other administrative costs. These costs will vary depending on the size of the estate and the amount or nature of the estate assets themselves.

Reach Out to Discuss Intestacy Laws in Maryland

It is important to understand how a person’s assets will be distributed if they do not have a will. In Maryland, they will follow what are known as the laws of intestacy that determine how assets are distributed. To learn more, call today for a consultation.