Estate planning helps individuals find peace of mind knowing their family’s long-term financial well being and security is taken care of. At Morris & Sessing attorneys work with families throughout the region to prepare wills, trusts and estate plans.
The probate process in Maryland refers to the legal procedure for administering the estate of a deceased person. Here is a brief summary of the probate process in Maryland:
- Filing the Petition: The first step is filing a petition with the Orphans’ Court in the county where the decedent resided. The petition requests the appointment of a personal representative (executor) to administer the estate.
- Notification and Inventory: The personal representative notifies beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors about the probate proceedings. They also prepare an inventory of the decedent’s assets, including property, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings.
- Paying Debts and Taxes: The personal representative identifies and pays any outstanding debts, taxes, and administrative expenses from the estate’s assets.
- Distributing Assets: After settling debts and taxes, the remaining assets are distributed according to the decedent’s will or applicable intestacy laws if there is no will. The personal representative ensures a legal distribution to beneficiaries and heirs.
- Final Accounting and Closing: The personal representative prepares a final accounting, detailing all transactions and distributions made during the probate process. Once approved by the court, the estate can be closed, and the personal representative is discharged from their duties.
If you need help getting either your estate or someone else’s estate in order, contact Morris & Sessing. Failure to do so can cause problems for children and/or other beneficiaries. Our attorneys are here to help you navigate the probate process.
A will is essential for all individuals to obtain and maintain during all stages of his or her life. Having a will is a good idea for several important reasons:
- Distributing Your Assets: A will allows you to specify how you want your assets, such as property, money, or personal belongings, to be distributed after your death. Without a will, the distribution will be determined by the laws of intestacy in your jurisdiction, which may not align with your wishes.
- Appointing Guardianship: If you have minor children, a will allows you to name a guardian to take care of them in the event of your passing. This ensures that your children will be raised by someone you trust and who shares your values.
- Minimizing Family Disputes: A will can help prevent potential conflicts among family members by clearly stating your intentions regarding the distribution of your assets. It reduces the likelihood of disagreements and legal disputes among heirs.
- Designating an Executor: In a will, you can name an executor, who is responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will, managing your estate, and ensuring that your wishes are followed. This helps streamline the administration process and ensures that someone you trust is in charge.
- Planning for Tax Efficiency: A will can include provisions to help minimize estate taxes and maximize the amount of your assets that go to your intended beneficiaries.
- Expressing Special Wishes: A will can include instructions for your funeral arrangements, organ donation preferences, or any other specific wishes you may have regarding your final arrangements.
- Updating and Revising: Having a will allows you to maintain control over your estate plan and make changes as needed. It’s important to regularly review and update your will to reflect any changes in your personal or financial circumstances.
Trusts may be used as tools for individuals to avoid probate costs, minimize or avoid taxes in certain situations, protect assets from creditors, maintain a level of privacy not available in probate, provide a set of limitations on his or her children’s accessibility to money, and much more. Our attorneys are experienced estate planners and can assist you by establishing a trust that is right for your family.