Probate is the proving of the last will and testament. The probate process often begins with filing the decedent’s original last will and testament in the county where the decedent resided at death.
To have an individual formally qualified to act as the Personal Representative, known more commonly as the executor, of the estate, requires court appointment. To ask the court for approval, the nominated Personal Representative petitions the court.
It is often helpful to speak with a Maryland probate attorney as soon as possible after the death of a loved one so that an attorney can advise you regarding the initiation of the probate process. An attorney may assist you with preserving the assets of the estate from post-mortem planning and the actions needed to formally begin and to collect information to formally begin the probate process.
How a Lawyer Can Help Simplify the Probate Process
Probate is the court process of administering a decedent’s estate to distribute the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries or heirs. Attorneys can assist their clients throughout the process from preparing the necessary pleadings to have an individual qualified to serve as personal representative, to helping to create a plan for distribution of the estate. A Maryland probate attorney can help take the administrative burden off of the personal representative. For example, an attorney can assist with valuing and marshaling all of the assets, having real estate and tangible property appraised and arranging for sale or cleanup of the estate.
Some estates may be eligible for modified administration. Modified administration is a more streamlined estate administration procedure that allows for filing of a final report under modified administration rather than an inventory and subsequent accounting.
To convert estates to modified administration, the personal representative must elect modified administration within 3 months from the date of appointment and all the residuary beneficiaries must consent to modified administration. In addition, the final report under modified administration, must be timely filed or the estate will automatically convert to a regular estate administration, along with the inventories and accountings.
Often preparing a final report under modified administration requires less information than a full accounting. It can save the estate on attorney fees and other administrative expenses.
Probate Preparation Before Death
You can plan for the administration of your estate during your lifetime by preparing a comprehensive estate plan and making sure that your plan remains up-to-date throughout your lifetime with changes to your family, level of assets, or to the law. It may be prudent to review your estate plan every 3 to 5 years so that they should be updated. In addition, you can observe good bookkeeping during your lifetime, and be sure to review beneficiary designations, and titling on accounts from time to time to ease the burden of estate administration and streamline the passing on of your assets to the next generation.
Why Hire a Maryland Probate Attorney
There are a number of ways a Maryland probate attorney can assist with the administration of an estate. Probate attorneys can assist with explaining the Maryland laws and advise the personal representative of his or her fiduciary duties. An attorney can provide guidance throughout the process. Probate attorneys have experience with marshaling, and evaluating assets. Attorneys may also have prior experience in assisting with creating a plan for distribution. An attorney can help to alleviate the burden of the personal representative with the administering of the estate.