Probate Without a Will in Maryland
It’s hard to overstate the importance of a legally valid will. A properly drafted will can streamline estate administration, help avoid inheritance disputes, and simplify probate. But what happens if someone dies without a will in Maryland?
At the law offices of Ralph W. Powers, Jr., PC., estate planning and probate lawyers in Upper Marlboro, MD, we can help Southern Maryland families navigate the complexities of probate without a will.
Intestate Succession in Maryland
Creating a will allows Maryland residents to distribute assets and appoint an executor according to their wishes. If someone dies without a will, the estate will pass to heirs according to Maryland intestate succession laws. For example:
- If the decedent has a surviving spouse but no children or other descendants, the spouse inherits the entire estate.
- If the decedent was unmarried but had children, the children inherit equal shares of the estate.
- If the decedent was married and had minor children, the spouse inherits half the estate, and the other half passes to the children in equal shares.
Of course, intestate succession may not correspond to what the decedent would have wanted. That’s why everyone should have a clear, legally valid will.
How Does Probate Without a Will Work in Maryland?
The probate process in Maryland proceeds the same way whether or not the decedent left a will. The main difference is that if the decedent passed away without a will, the probate court will need to appoint a personal representative to handle the estate administration.
As a rule, assets go through probate if they were under the decedent’s sole ownership. This includes bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, and other types of property.
Non-probate assets include:
- Property the decedent had owned jointly with a surviving spouse
- Retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries
- Property the decedent had placed in a trust
Do You Need a Probate Attorney to Handle Probate Without a Will?
The absence of a will may create certain legal complications that a probate attorney can help you resolve. A probate lawyer may:
- Help personal representatives comply with all estate administration tasks
- Facilitate the communication between the personal representative and the beneficiaries and prevent disputes
- Identify heirs when the decedent only had distant relatives like uncles, aunts, or cousins
- Protect personal representatives against breach of fiduciary duty accusations
- Expedite probate and facilitate distribution of assets
Ralph W. Powers Jr., P.C.: Estate Administration and Probate Lawyers in Upper Marlboro, MD
If your spouse, parent, or family member died without a will, or if a Maryland court appointed you as an estate administrator in probate without a will, contact the law office of Ralph W. Powers, Jr., PC. Our experienced legal team helps family members handle intestate estate administration and probate in Upper Marlboro, Prince George’s County, and across Southern Maryland.
To schedule a consultation with a Maryland probate attorney, call us at 301-627-1000 or complete our online form.