Duties of a Maryland personal representative are important. An individual can nominate a personal representative in their last will and testament and those individuals that are nominated have priority to serve over other individuals. If there is nobody nominated, then the Maryland law will determine who has priority to serve and it may not be the same person or an individual that a decedent would have chosen.
If, for example, a decedent has three children and is not married at the time of death, then all three children may have priority to serve under Maryland law, but if that same individual writes a last will and testament, then they can nominate just one of those three children to serve, which may reduce family dispute and increase the efficiency of the administration of the estate. Talk to a qualified Maryland wills lawyer for more information.
Important Aspects of Personal Representative
The requirements of a personal representative in Maryland are that a personal representative is over the age of 18, is detail-oriented, has not committed any serious crimes, is a U.S. citizen or legal resident, is able to qualify for a bond, and someone who has not been subject to bankruptcy.
In many cases, an attorney is able to assist non-local personal representatives so that they do not have to appear or travel to the state where the decedent resided.
Approach to Estate Administration
Depending on the bandwidth and the scope of ability that the personal representative has, there are some duties that an attorney can delegate to the personal representative in Maryland to complete so that an attorney can keep costs down.
In other cases where a personal representative is overwhelmed by the process or is simply busy and would like assistance in everything, so a lawyer can handle the majority of the estate administration. The personal representative cannot delegate their fiduciary duties. However, an attorney can assist with all aspects of the estate administration, such as marshaling assets, and meeting with realtors and appraisers.
The attorney will also prepare the required court pleadings and estate tax returns. The attorney will also prepare a plan for distribution.
Characteristics of Maryland Law that Impacts Process
Every state and jurisdiction has unique laws with regards to both probate and taxes. Maryland is no different. One other thing that is interesting about Maryland is that it currently has a free-standing inheritance tax and a free-standing estate tax. That is not common in other jurisdictions. For example, in the District of Columbia, it has a freestanding estate tax but it was repealed.
The interplay between the Maryland tax system, the Maryland probate requirement, and the federal tax system, is unique to the Maryland probate process. Also, understanding the nature of the court, and being familiar with the practice and what is common in estate administration is helpful while administrating an estate, and an attorney who has experience can make the process more efficient.
Duties of Personal Representative in Maryland
A personal representative, when appointed, has a fiduciary obligation to the estate. A common misunderstanding is that the personal representative is entitled to receive the estate assets, but that is not the case. The personal representative has the fiduciary obligation to manage those assets on behalf of the beneficiaries or the heirs to the estate. Very broadly speaking, those duties include marshaling all of the decedent’s assets and valuing them based on the market value on the date of the death, reviewing, and maintaining any legally enforceable debts, making sure that all income and estate tax returns are filed and any associated taxes are paid, and then making distribution either pursuant to the last will and testament or to the laws of intestacy, depending on the case.