Maryland estate administration generally describes the process of wrapping up a decedent’s affairs after death. For many estates in Maryland that would include the court proceedings such as probate so that the Personal Representative can be appointed to have the authority to marshal the assets in a decedent’s sole name on the date of death with no beneficiary designation or joint owner.
Generally, the administration involves marshaling all of the assets of the decedent, reviewing, and paying any legally enforceable debts, filing any necessary income tax returns or estate tax returns, and paying the required taxes, and making distribution of the estate either pursuant to the laws of Maryland or to the decedent’s Last Will and Testament.
It is recommended that family members reach out to an experienced trust attorney because Maryland estate administration generally takes about a year. However, family disputes or difficulty marshaling the assets can prolong the process. Many individuals associate probate with the delay in the estate administration procedure but even if a mechanism is used to avoid probate, the entire process can take about a year.
Approaching Estate Administration
The approach to Maryland estate administration is to try to be as practical and as streamlined as possible while being comprehensive. Attorneys can be white-gloved, meaning they can handle the entirety of the estate with the Personal Representative signing off on requisite letters or authorizations as necessary. Alternatively, an estate administration attorney can allow the Personal Representative to choose some of the duties that they would like to perform to keep costs down. There are some required items such as completion of any court filings or any tax returns.
Unclaimed property in Maryland is property that has been inactive or abandoned for a period of time. It has been turned over to the State of Maryland for safekeeping. For example, if an individual has a bank account that was inactive for a period of time, after several warnings, the company may turn over the bank account to the state of Maryland to hold for safe keeping for an individual to the claim.
Generally, Maryland estate administration for probate purposes will be determined by the key facts and the nature and the value of the assets of the estate. The proceedings will really be dependent on individual family dynamics, disputes or other issues that play in the estate. Often times proper estate administration planning can streamline the probate process, and it often allows for the minimization of expenses or the exposure of the estate to family disputes.
In Maryland, the pleadings that are required to open an estate will be dependent on the facts of the estate. They will also be dependent on the value of the assets and whether an individual died with or without a Last Will and Testament. In many Maryland cases, hearings are not required to have an individual appointed Personal Representative but they are required in cases that are completed through judicial probates where there may be concern or vagueness with regard to who has priority to serve or whether a Last Will and Testament is valid.
Estate administration in Maryland is specific to Maryland law and therefore, it differs in many other local jurisdictions. The probate process in Maryland can be a streamlined process where proper planning has occurred in there or not, there are not any issues or vagueness in the estate or any disputes.
The other thing to note in the estate administration process is that Maryland has both a free standing inheritance tax and a free standing estate tax. Many other local jurisdictions don’t have those tax systems and they can affect how an estate is distributed, as well as the expenses of the estate, and the timing of the estate administration.
Every estate has a jurisdiction and specific law with regard to the distribution of assets in the administration of estates. Maryland is no different; there are specific rules that apply that are based in Maryland that may differ from other local jurisdictions. For example, Maryland has a state estate tax and a state inheritance tax which can sometimes affect the costs associated with the administration of the estate or the distribution of the estate assets.