How Do I Avoid Probate in MD?
Probate often turns into a messy and complicated process, so it makes sense that you want to spare your family from this stressful headache however you can.
Your estate may qualify for a simplified probate process in Maryland if it’s below a certain value. But even if this doesn’t apply, it’s possible to avoid probate by planning ahead with the following strategies.
Maryland Joint Property Ownership
Do you own real estate jointly with your spouse or someone else? If so, your property will pass to that person through the right of survivorship after you die. This means they will not need to go through probate to inherit your home.
However, you must specifically state your intention for joint ownership on the deed. If you don’t, the property has no right of survivorship.
Life Estate Deed
A life estate deed also allows you to transfer property to someone automatically after you die. With this strategy, you remove the property from your estate but can still live there for the rest of your life. This option appeals to many people because it shields them from certain tax obligations.
Still, it’s important to ensure your deed contains the correct terms. If it doesn’t, your property may not transfer automatically, meaning loved ones must go through probate to sort out ownership.
You can put your assets into a revocable living trust to transfer them to loved ones when you pass away. To avoid probate, you’ll need to name your beneficiaries plus a person who will take over as the trustee when you’re gone.
You can change the terms of a revocable trust at any time before your death.
If you hold a life insurance policy or retirement account, you can name beneficiaries who will inherit the funds after your death. Even if you named your beneficiaries years ago, you can change them whenever you like. Review your policies regularly and update them to reflect your wishes.
You can also name beneficiaries for your bank and other financial accounts. When you die, the money in your accounts passes directly to the person you named. If you don’t name a payable-on-death beneficiary, the money in your accounts must go through the probate process.
Simplified Probate in Maryland
In Maryland, your estate may qualify for the simplified probate process if it doesn’t exceed:
- $100,000 if your spouse is the only heir
- $50,000 otherwise
Even if your estate exceeds these amounts, it could qualify for simplified probate in combination with the above strategies.
For example, if your bank account holds $200,000 and you name a beneficiary, that amount is no longer subject to probate. Holding jointly owned property and putting assets into a trust reduces the value further.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in Maryland To Learn More
Nobody wants to deal with probate courts when grieving the loss of a loved one. If you’d like to learn more about how to avoid probate in Maryland, call The Law Office of Ralph W. Powers, Jr., P.C., at (301) 627-1000.