Opening an Estate in Montgomery County Probate
The death of a close relative can be overwhelming, even when the deceased lived a long and happy life. Family members are often unsure of what they need to do to take care of that person’s estate or where to even start.
Probate is the legal process that distributes assets and settles the debts of the deceased. If you need help opening an estate in Montgomery County probate, speak with an experienced Maryland trusts and estates lawyer today.
How A Probate Case Works in MoCo
When a person dies with assets in their sole name without a beneficiary designation or joint owner, the deceased’s personal representative will need to open a probate case. The personal representative may be designated in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. If a decedent died without a Last Will and Testament, then, the laws of intestacy for the jurisdiction where the decedent died often provide an order of priority of who is entitled to serve.
The personal representative will open the case in the county that was the primary residence of the deceased. After opening the case, the personal representative’s duties include marshaling all of the assets of the estate, paying any legally enforceable debts and administrative expenses, filing income and estate tax returns, and making distribution pursuant to the decedent’s Last Will and Testament or according to the laws of intestacy.
When is This Process Necessary?
Not every estate has to go through probate. Depending on how the decedent arranged their finances before death, probate may not be necessary. Many individuals in MoCo create an estate plan prior to death and structure their assets in a way that will avoid the probate process entirely.
Only assets that are owned by the decedent individually without a joint owner or beneficiary are subject to probate. When the decedent jointly owned property with a spouse or other person, the property will usually transfer immediately upon death without court intervention.
Joint assets, assets that contain a “payable on death” designations, or assets such as insurance policies that require a named beneficiary are some the most common types of property to avoid the probate process. Additionally, smaller estates (under $50,000 for unmarried people and under $100,000 for married decedents) may not require a full probate case and may be able to take advantage of the state’s abridged probate procedures.
Get Help Opening an Estate in Montgomery County Probate
While it can be challenging to think about paperwork or the value of an estate shortly after a loved one’s death, it is important to get started on the probate process quickly. The executor to the estate must meet specific deadlines and missing those deadlines could result in fines or fees that reduce the estate’s value.