Rockville Probate Process
During probate, the court oversees the process of paying off a deceased person’s debts and distributing their assets to the people legally entitled to receive them. To protect creditors and heirs, specific Maryland law includes provisions that address the handling of the creditor’s during the estate process. If a Personal Representative fails to follow the statutory provisions, he or she may be in breach of their fiduciary duty. If someone makes a mistake administering an estate, they could be held liable for the error. Therefore, many Personal Representatives administering estates in Rockville could find it advantageous to work with an experienced attorney during the probate process.
When Do Assets Go Through Probate?
Most people leave an estate behind when they pass away because an estate is simply a term describing the assets and obligations. However, not every asset in a Rockville estate is required to go through the probate process. Property only needs to be probated if it was held solely by the deceased person.
For instance, if a deceased person and a spouse owned a house as tenants by the entirety, then the home passes directly into the ownership of the living spouse. Property held in a trust, such as a living revocable trust, would pass directly to beneficiaries unless the trust documents specify otherwise. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets with a beneficiary designation or payable on death clause would also pass directly to beneficiaries without going through probate.
If the deceased parted with no assets in their estate, then there is no need for probate. However, if the individual left a will, state law requires that the original copy of the will be filed with Register of Wills for the county where the decedent resided at death.
If a will nominates someone to serve as the personal representative, that person usually becomes responsible for opening an estate in probate. When the deceased does not leave a will, the court will appoint a personal representative in accordance with the priority of those permitted to serve under Maryland law.
The personal representative has several responsibilities, including:
- Identifying probate assets
- Filing forms required by the court
- Filing tax returns and paying taxes
- Paying administration and final expenses
- Notifying creditors and paying bills
- Distributing remaining assets according to the terms of the will or the laws of intestate succession
Typically, the Rockville probate process is completed within one year.
Small and Insolvent Estates
If the value of probate assets in an estate is below a certain limit, the estate could proceed through a simplified small estate probate proceeding. The limit is $100,000 for estates passing to a surviving spouse and $50,000 for all other estates. In the small estate probate process in Rockville, the estate inventory and administration accounts do not need to be filed and approved by the court.
When an estate lacks sufficient value to pay all of the obligations, it is considered insolvent. Obligations include family allowances as well as debts held by creditors and administration expenses. State law outlines specific methods for paying obligations when an estate is insolvent, so it is important to consider the guidelines.
Assistance During the Rockville Probate Process
In Rockville, Circuit Court judges sit as Orphans’ Court, which is the court responsible for the supervision of estates in probate and appointment of guardians for minors. Although probate is handled through Orphans’ Court, an estate could pass through probate without much, if any, interaction with judges.
If there is a dispute about the validity of a will, the naming of a personal representative, or any other matter, the court might conduct hearings to resolve the conflict. Even in undisputed situations, however, it can be difficult to administer an estate and comply with all requirements during the Rockville probate process. Many people find it helpful to consult a knowledgeable attorney for assistance.