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Rights of Interested Persons in Maryland

An interested person is any individual that is named in the last will and testament and any individual that would be an heir of the decedent if the decedent had died without a last will and testament. When a decedent has a last will and testament, heirs by law who are not named in the last will and testament cease to become interested persons after the initial notice has been published. 

Estate planning is a complex process which has far-ranging implications for a number of people. To learn more about the rights of interested persons in Maryland, reach out to a local attorney with extensive experience today.

Heir versus Legatee

The rights of interested persons in Maryland will depend primarily on whether they are an heir or legatee of the estate. A legatee is someone that is named in the last will and testament. If an individual leaves a last will and testament and leaves all of their assets to a friend, but has three children at death, the friend is an interested person, the three children are interested persons, but while the three children are interested persons, they may not be entitled to receive any asset of the estate because the parents left all of the assets to the friend. 

Ability to Contest the Will

When it comes to the rights of interested persons in Maryland, they may still have an ability to contest the will, if there is an asset of the will that they believe was fraudulent or the will is not valid or they have any number of reasons to contest the will.  It should be noted that to contest a will, an individual must also have the standing to contest.  

Relations of Intestate within the Fifth Degree

If the Court is unable to locate an heir to the fifth degree, then the assets of an estate will escheat to the State of Maryland.

Maryland provides default laws to govern the administration of an estate when an individual dies without a last will and testament. Generally, the ability to inherit from an estate is dependent on the lineal bloodline.

For example, if a parent dies, and there are children then the children would be the heirs of the estate if the parent was not married at the time of death. Relations to the fifth degree is the limit of linear bloodline eligible to inherit if a decedent dies without a Last Will and Testament.  

Resolving Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of Personal Representatives and interested persons are commonly resolved in the Orphans’ Court for the county where the estate is administered. However, depending on the nature of the conflict, and the amount of the estate in conflict, some of those issues may be transmitted the Circuit Court for the appropriate jurisdiction. An experienced lawyer will be able to clarify the rights of interested persons in Maryland as needed.

Distribution of Retirement Accounts

Retirement accounts are distributed pursuant to the terms of the beneficiary designation. It is not uncommon for a retirement account to be distributed outside of the last will and testament of the decedent, often pursuant to what the beneficiary designation states.

Beneficiary Designation

A beneficiary designation is an agreement between an individual and a financial institution. If a retirement account does not have a beneficiary designation on file, the account may be payable to the estate of the decedent.  If the retirement account is tax-deferred, additional taxes could be owed.