Probate Law Maryland


    Probate is the process through which the legal title of the estate of a deceased person (the decedent) is transferred to his or her proper beneficiaries.
    The term "probate" generally refers to a "proving" of the existence of a valid Will, or determining and "proving" the legal heirs of the deceased to take on the property, if there is no Will.
  1. Petition for Probate
    • The Petition for Probate may be filed with the Orphan Court situated in the county where the person died irrespective of whether there is a will or not.
    • If the decedent died with a will, the original Will must have been filed with the Register.
    • The Petition seeks official opening the estate and appointment of the personal representative.
    • If the name of a personal representative not in the will, or if there was no will, Maryland law sets forth an order of priority of who is entitled to serve as personal representative.
    • The order of priority of a personal representative progresses from family members such as the spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, etc., to creditors or any other person.
    • When the Petition for Probate must be filed, with two other forms:
      1. the Notice of Appointment (in duplicate), and
      2. the Bond of Personal Representative.
    • At the expense of the estate, the Register of Wills places the Notice of Appointment in a local newspaper of general circulation once a week for three consecutive weeks.
    • After the appointment of a person is made, the Notice announces the appointment of such person as personal representative.
    • The personal Representative must give his address, and notifies creditors when and where to present claims.
    • Within 20 days of appointment of the personal representative a list of interested person may be filed if it has not been filed along with the petition for probat.
    • The Register of Will then issues Letters of Administration to the personal representative.
    • The Notice of Appointment also explains how someone can file an objection to the Register's appointment as personal representative.
    • If that individual is not available, or if there is no will, another person entitled to serve may file and request appointment as personal representative.
    • The Petition for Probate also informs the Register of Wills whether the decedent died with or without a will.
    • The Schedule A lists the approximate value of property owned solely by the decedent at death.
    • After the Register's audit, the account is submitted to the Orphans' Court for approval.
    • When the Orphans' Court approves the final account, and after the assets have been distributed, the estate is considered closed.
  2. Maryland law excludes certain people from serving as personal representative, even if they fall in the order of priority. Some persons excluded are as follows:
    • a person under eighteen;
    • a mentally incompetent person;
    • a person convicted of a serious crime;
    • a person who is not a citizen of the United States (unless the person is the spouse of the decedent and a permanent resident of the United States);
    • a nonresident of this State, unless there is on file with the Register of Wills an irrevocable designation of a person who resides in Maryland on whom service can be made. (This form does not authorize a resident agent to act on behalf of the personal representative.)
    • A personal representative holds an extremely important office and have the fiduciary responsibility of insuring that the estate is properly administered.
    • The personal representative shall open an estate bank account through which all estate business is conducted.
    • The personal representative has to keep receipts and accurate records of all expenses and payments
    • The personal representative has to send notice to creditors and pay of the claims before any beneficiary can inherit from the decedent.
    • The deadline for filing a claim is the earlier of six months after the decedent's death or two months after mailing the actual Notice. Claims against the estate must be made within this time period.
    • The personal representative has to file the Inventory Report. within three months of the appointment.
    • The personal representative has to file the Information Report within three months after the appointment containing lists all property the decedent owned or co-owned that is not listed on the Inventory Report.
    • The personal representative has to file the account statement after paying all claims with the Register of Wills for the purpose of audit.