Intestacy Laws in Montgomery County
Creating a Last Will and Testament protects a person’s assets after death and ensures that their property is distributed according to their wishes. When a person dies without a will, determining who should get what can be more complicated.
The intestacy laws in Montgomery County and the state of Maryland determine who will inherit a person’s property if they die without a will. If your loved one died intestate, it may be necessary to probate the estate and a Montgomery County probate lawyer may be of assistance.
Understanding Intestate Succession
The deceased person in a probate case is called the decedent. Decedents may pass away either testate or intestate, meaning with or without a will. When someone dies intestate, all of the things that that person owned in their own name will be distributed by the probate court via the rules of intestate succession.
Not all types of property are subject to intestate succession laws. Assets that the decedent owned jointly with another person will go to that person rather than the decedent’s heirs. Likewise, accounts that have a payable-on-death designation, life insurance proceeds, and assets protected by a trust will go to a named beneficiary without having to go through probate (assuming that no one challenges the distribution of the estate.
During a probate case, the decedent’s personal representative will itemize and value the assets available. After the executor pays the estate’s bills and creditors, the remaining items and money left can be distributed to the decedent’s heirs.
Who May Inherit Under Intestacy Law
In Maryland, intestacy laws distribute assets to heirs depending on how closely related a person was to the deceased. Without a will, the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and parents will usually inherit from the estate first.
Which person or persons are eligible to inherit from the estate depends on the deceased’s family situation at the time of death. If the decedent was married but had no children, the surviving spouse may need to split the estate with the decedent’s parents. If the decedent had children but was not married at the time of death, then the children will split the estate. If the decedent had no children and no spouse, then that person’s parents may inherit the estate. See Md. Code, Estates and Trusts §3-102.
If none of the decedent’s immediate family is still alive, then it may take some investigation to identify the correct heirs. Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and even great-grandchildren can inherit from a person who dies intestate, depending on how closely related they were and how many family members survive. If there are no remaining blood relatives, then step-children who survived the decedent may be able to inherit. See Md. Code, Estates and Trusts §3-104.
A Trusts and Estates Attorney Can Help Sort Out the Details
After the death of a loved one, it can be difficult to figure out what to do next. Without a will, family members have little guidance about how to administer the estate.
Get the help your family needs from a trusts and estates lawyer that can help you navigate the intestacy laws in Montgomery County and protect your right to inherit from your loved one’s estate. Don’t wait to schedule your appointment—call today!