The rules of probating an estate sound pretty straightforward, but once you start, the process can get complicated.
Cora is a 46-year-old librarian in Baltimore, Maryland. A few years ago when her aunt was putting her affairs in order, she named Cora to be her representative of her will. Cora was to inherit most of the estate and share other parts with her sister.
Cora’s recently started trying to navigate the probate process when her aunt passed away. Her aunt had made sure the first step of the process was completed when she filed her Will with the Office of the Register of Wills about a year ago.
Cora started to research the process, especially since her aunt had left her the house to split with her sister. Cora found Akin Developers online and reached out for help. She told us, when she contacted us, that she had not thought about what her responsibilities would be and had not researched the process, mostly because she had not wanted to think about her death. She was now overwhelmed by the process. We were able to connect her with a probate attorney who could help her successfully understand the process and meet all requirements and deadlines.
Maryland Probate Process
Filling the Will
The process for probate in Maryland begins with the filing of the Will with the Office of the Register of Wills. Cora’s aunt had already taken this step. So now the first thing Cora needed to do was to file a petition to probate the estate.
Petition to Probate the Estate
Once the Petition to Probate the Estate is filed, the clock starts on time limits for other steps in the process. Next, the Court will either approve the person named in the Will as the Personal Representative or appoint one if no one is named. Since Cora was named as her aunt’s Personal Representative in her will and her sister had no complaints she was named Representative for the estate by the Court and given the Letters of Administration authorizing her to act on behalf of the estate. Another part of that Petition is determining if the estate is a small estate (valued at no more than $50,000) or a Regular Estate (more than $50,000). Cora’s aunt, with her property amount, was classified as a regular estate.
List of Interested Persons
Within 20 days after the Personal Representative is appointed (for a regular estate), they are required to file a “List of Interested Persons.” This is a list of anyone who stands to inherit from the estate. In Cora’s case, this included herself and her sister.
Inventory and Information Report
The Personal Representative is also required to file this report within three months of being appointed. The Inventory is a listing of all assets belonging solely to the decedent at the time of their death, and the value of each asset at that time. The Information Report also has to be filed within that three-month window and lists anything that the decedent owned with someone else, or that was left to a specific person in the Will. Cora and her aunt had already prepared these lists before her death, so Cora only had to verify that the information was still accurate, and was able to file it quickly with the Register of Wills.
With a regular estate, the First Account must be filed within nine months after a Personal Representative is appointed. Cora and her aunt had prepared for this as well by preparing a list of all assets she owned.
However, the First Account is not allowed to be filed any sooner than six months after the appointment of the Representative. This document states the value of the estate and reports all financial activity, such as bills that were paid from the estate after the decedent’s death – like mortgage payments, utility payments, funeral expenses, etc. It would also list any income added to the value of the estate, like insurance payments, etc. This account must be approved by the court.
Claims Against the Estate
Any creditors or other persons who believe they have a claim for payment from the estate can file a claim within six months after the date of death or two months after the Personal Representative mails or otherwise delivers to them a copy of the Notice of Appointment, Notice to Creditors, Notice to Unknown Heirs form. This form is also published in the newspaper for three weeks. If claims are not received within the allotted time, they are no longer viable claims against the estate. Cora filed this form quickly and was able to proceed with the closing of the estate.
These are accounts that are filed with the court if anything changes with the financial standing of the estate after the First Account was approved.
Once all debts have been paid by the estate, including attorney fees, etc., a Final Account is filed. This Account lists the final assets, their value, and the total value of the estate that is to be distributed. There isn’t a specific time limit for filing this since some estates may take longer than others. Once the Final Account is approved, the assets of the estate may be distributed.
Cora After Probate
Once the Final Account was approved, Cora was able to distribute the estate. Since Cora and her sister both inherited the house, they decided to sell and split the proceeds. Cora contacted Akin Developers again. She knew they bought houses in any condition and knew she wouldn’t be able to update the house before selling.
We made Cora and her sister a fair offer and they both accepted. They were able to take their shares of the sale and put them towards new homes for themselves.
When making your way through the probate process in Maryland it is a good idea to work with professionals. Akin Developers has a vast network of professionals in place to help you navigate the process.