We hear so often from different sources that probate is to be avoided at all costs. While this may be true in some states that have burdensome probate procedures, it really is not the case here in Maryland.
Probate is an administrative process overseen by the Register of Wills and the Orphans’ Court. The process begins when a person, usually an individual named in the Will or a family member, applies for Letters of Administration and becomes authorized to handle the affairs of the person who has passed away. This person becomes the “Personal Representative” or “PR”.
The Register of Wills imposes certain deadlines that need to be met. Within twenty days the PR must provide a complete list of the Interested Persons in the estate so that anyone with an interest is provided with notice of the proceedings. Within three months of the person’s death, the PR must provide to the court an Inventory of the assets in the estate along with date of death values on all of the assets. Within nine months the PR must provide an accounting, either a final or an interim accounting, showing the receipts which came into the estate, the income, gains and losses to the estate, and the disbursements from the estate. If the accounting is final then the PR must show the final distribution to the beneficiaries.
While it is true that a trust will allow the family to avoid this process, the reality is that the family must complete the same tasks either way. Even with a trust there must be a marshalling of assets, determination of date of death values, liquidation of assets for payment of bills and fees, filing of tax returns, and finally an accounting in order to figure out the final distribution.
To learn more about the probate process, please call our office.
Image Credit: Joe