What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Maryland?

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended solely for informational purposes and should not be used for legal purposes.

Death is an inevitable part of life.

Moreover, planning for what happens to your assets and estate when you’re no longer here is essential.

Creating a last will is one way to ensure your wishes are carried out.

However, only some take the time to draft a will.

It leaves the disposition of their assets up to Maryland’s intestate succession laws.

This article will explore what happens if you die without a will in Maryland.

It will also explore the legal points and provide authentic links to the relevant statutes.

What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Maryland? – Intestate Succession In Maryland

When someone passes without a will, they are said to have died “intestate.” 

In Maryland, intestate succession laws determine how a deceased person’s estate will be distributed among their heirs.

These laws are outlined in the Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts, Title 3, Subtitle 2.

Relationship To DeceasedDistribution Of AssetsShare
Surviving spouse onlyThe entire estate is divided equally among surviving descendants100% to surviving spouse
Surviving spouse and descendants (children or their descendants)Equal shares to each parent or the entire estate to the surviving parentSurviving spouse: First $15,000 + 50% of the remaining estate, Descendants: 50% of the remaining estate
The entire estate goes to the surviving spouseThe entire estate is divided equally among surviving siblingsEqual shares to each surviving descendant
Parents, but no surviving spouse or descendantsSurviving descendants but no surviving spouseThe entire estate goes to other relatives according to Maryland’s intestate succession laws
Siblings, but no surviving spouse, descendants, or parentsThe surviving spouse receives the first $15,000 of the intestate estate plus half of the remaining estate. Descendants receive the other half of the remaining estate.Equal shares to each surviving sibling
No surviving spouse, descendants, parents, or siblingsEntire estate goes to other relatives according to Maryland’s intestate succession lawsDistribution according to Maryland’s intestate succession laws

Let’s break down what happens when someone dies without a will in Maryland.

Spouse’s Share:

If you die without a will and are survived by a spouse, your spouse will inherit a significant portion of your estate.

The exact share depends on whether you have surviving descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) and the nature of your assets.

Your spouse inherits your entire estate.

 – If you have no surviving descendants.

– It is (children, grandchildren, etc.).

– If you have surviving descendants from you and your spouse

– All the descendants are from your marriage.

In this case, your spouse inherits the first $15,000 of your estate, also half of the remaining balance. 

The other half passes to your descendants.

You have surviving descendants, but some are not from your current marriage.

Your spouse inherits half of your estate, and the other half goes to your descendants.

It’s important to note that a spouse’s share is not subject to any debts or claims against the estate.

Children’s Share:

You have surviving descendants who are not the children of your current spouse.

They will inherit a portion of your estate, as mentioned earlier.

This ensures that children from previous relationships are not excluded from the distribution process.

Parents’ Share:

If you die without a spouse or surviving descendants, your parents are next in line to inherit your estate.

They will inherit your entire estate if both are alive, or the surviving parent will inherit your entire estate if only one is alive.

This way, you know what happens if you die without a will in Maryland.

Siblings’ Share:

Your estate will pass to your siblings.

It is if you have no surviving spouse, descendants, or parents.

If you have one surviving sibling, they will inherit your entire estate.

If you have multiple surviving siblings, they will share your estate equally.

Other Relatives:

If you have no surviving spouse, descendants, or siblings, Maryland’s intestate succession laws dictate that your estate will pass to distant relatives.

These include aunts, uncles, cousins, or even more remote relatives.

Escheat To The State:

If you die without a will, it may escheat (revert) to the state of Maryland.

It is when there are no surviving relatives to inherit your estate.

This is a rare occurrence, as the state usually makes significant efforts to identify and locate heirs.

What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Maryland? – Special Considerations

The intestate succession laws in Maryland provide a clear framework for distributing an estate.

It is when there is no will.

There are some important considerations to keep in mind:

Stepchildren And Unmarried Partners:

Under Maryland’s intestate succession laws, stepchildren and unmarried partners do not have inheritance rights.

This will be unless they are legally adopted by the deceased or explicitly mentioned in the deceased person’s will.

This can lead to unintended consequences.

This, thus, makes it crucial to create a will if you want specific individuals to inherit from your estate.

This way, it helps to know what happens if you die without a will in Maryland.

What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Maryland? – Distribution Of Assets

Intestate succession laws in Maryland can lead to the distribution of assets that may not align with your preferences.

Creating a will lets you specify how you want your assets divided and who should receive them.

Minor Children:

The court will appoint a guardian if you have any minor children.

 While the court’s decision is based on the child’s best interests.

It creates a will that allows you to designate a guardian of your choice.

This way, it helps to know what happens if you die without a will in Maryland.

What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Maryland? – The Probate Process

Dying without a will can also complicate the probate process.

Determining the rightful heirs and distributing the estate may require more time and effort.

A well-drafted will can streamline this process and provide clarity to your loved ones.

It can be complex and may differ from the process when a valid will is in place. 

Here are the essential steps to follow:

Opening The Estate:

Opening the estate process includes:

Petition for Administration: When someone dies without a will in Maryland, a family member or interested party must file a Petition.

It will be for administration with the register of wills in the county where the deceased lived.

The petitioner will typically request to be appointed as the Personal Representative.

This person is the equivalent of an executor of the estate in cases with a will.

Notice to Heirs and Beneficiaries: The court will issue a notice after filing the Petition for Administration.

It will be an appointment to inform potential heirs and beneficiaries about the probate process.

This notice provides a crucial opportunity for interested parties.

It contests the appointment of the Personal Representative or raises objections.

Identifying Assets:

The Personal Representative is responsible for identifying and gathering the deceased person’s assets.

This may include real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, etc.

Inventory And Appraisal:

The inventory and appraisal include:

Appraisal: Some assets may need to be appraised to determine their value.

This is often required for real estate, valuable artwork, or collectibles.

Inventory: A comprehensive inventory of all assets and their appraised values must be submitted to the Register of Wills.

This is within three months of the Personal Representative’s appointment.

Payment Of Debts And Taxes:

The personal representative publishes a notice to creditors in a local newspaper.

This helps in notifying any potential creditors of the deceased person’s death.

Creditors then have a limited time to file claims against the estate.

The representative is also responsible for paying the deceased person’s outstanding debts and liabilities from the estate’s assets.

This includes medical bills, outstanding loans, and other obligations.

Taxes: 

Estate taxes may be applicable depending on the value of the estate.

Maryland has its estate tax, and if the estate exceeds the exemption limit, it may also be subject to federal estate tax.

Distribution Of Assets:

In cases where there is no will, Maryland’s intestate succession laws dictate how the estate will be distributed among the deceased person’s heirs.

The distribution order is typically as follows:

– Surviving spouse and descendants (children and grandchildren)

– Surviving parents

– Siblings or their descendants

– Other relatives

Final Accounting And Closing Of The Estate:

After all debts have been paid and assets have been distributed, the representative must prepare a final accounting.

This will detail all financial transactions related to the estate.

This accounting is submitted to the court for approval.

The representative distributes the remaining assets once the court approves the final accounting.

These will be to the heirs and beneficiaries.

Closing The Estate: 

After the court is satisfied that all necessary actions have been taken.

This includes the payment of debts, taxes, and distribution of assets; the estate can be closed.

What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Maryland? – Consult With An Attorney

Whether there is a will or not, the probate process in Maryland can be intricate and subject to various legal requirements.

It is essential to consult with a professional estate planning attorney.

An attorney can provide personalized guidance and meet all legal obligations during this challenging time.

Laws and procedures may change, and consulting with an attorney is advisable.

This helps to let you know what happens if you die without a will in Maryland.

Conclusion:

Creating a will is crucial in ensuring your assets are distributed per your wishes.

However, the state’s intestate succession laws will determine how the estate is distributed to your heirs.

While these laws provide a clear framework, they may not align with your preferences.

Also, certain individuals may be excluded from inheriting.

Avoid potential complications and ensure that your estate is distributed as you wish.

It’s advisable to consult with an attorney and create a valid will.

This proactive step can provide your loved ones clarity and peace of mind during a difficult time.

Legal matters can be complex, and here you know what happens if you die without a will in Maryland.

Also, consulting with an attorney for personalized guidance on estate planning and will creation is advisable.

Thus, the

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is Intestate Succession In Maryland?

Intestate succession in Maryland refers to the legal process.

It determines how a deceased person’s assets and property are distributed when they pass away without a valid will.

2. Who Inherits My Property If I Die Without A Will In Maryland?

The distribution of your assets in Maryland depends on your surviving relatives.

Generally, it starts with your spouse and children, followed by other family members in a specific order outlined by state law.

3. What Happens To My Assets If A Spouse And Children Survive Me?

If you have a surviving spouse and children in Maryland, your spouse will inherit some of your estate.

Your children will inherit the rest, subject to specific percentages set by law.

4. What If I Don’t Have A Surviving Spouse Or Any Children?

Suppose you have no surviving spouse or children.

In that case, your assets will be distributed to other family members or even more distant relatives.

It depends on the hierarchy established by Maryland’s intestate succession laws.

5. Can Unmarried Partners Inherit Assets If I Die Without A Will?

In Maryland, unmarried partners, including domestic partners and non-marital relationships, are not entitled to inherit through intestate succession unless legally recognized as a spouse or family member.

6. Who Manages My Estate If I Die Without A Will In Maryland?

When you die without a will in Maryland, the court will appoint an administrator.

This administrator will pay debts, distribute assets, and ensure that the estate is settled according to Maryland law.

7. How Are Minor Children’s Guardians Determined In The Absence Of A Will?

If you have minor children and die without a will in Maryland, the court will appoint a guardian to care for them.

The court’s decision will be based on the children’s best interests and may consider any preferences you expressed if they are in the children’s best interests.

8. What Steps Can I Take To Avoid Intestate Succession In Maryland?

To avoid intestate succession in Maryland and ensure your assets are distributed per your wishes, creating a legally valid will is essential.

Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.

He accurately reflects your preferences and accounts for changes in your circumstances.

Terry L. Crump

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