Why it is a Good Idea to Avoid Probate in Maryland
Updated: Jul 20, 2021
After a death, the manner in which someone’s estate is administered and distributed depends upon the documents they created prior to death dictating what happens to their assets upon their passing. Probate entails the process of a Court administering the estate of a decedent after their death – this means dealing with all assets that are solely owned by the decedent as of the date of their death.
Though it may sound appealing to let a court handle the process of probating an estate, there are several reasons you may wish to create revocable living trusts, beneficiary designations for certain accounts, or consider joint ownership of assets to remove the property from probate even if they’re still subject to Maryland’s computation of the gross taxable estate.
Probate is a Public Process
All documents filed with Maryland’s Register of Wills are viewable by anyone as a public record because probated is administered by the courts. This means all documents included are public, such as a will, distributions made according to the terms of the will, a list of the decedent’s assets, and an accounting of:
The decedent’s losses and gains
The decedent’s income
Not only can this feel like a huge invasion of privacy during a sensitive time in a family’s life, it can set the stage for a beneficiary to become the target of an attempted burglary or a scam if a criminal learns you just came into a hefty inheritance.
Probate Can Move Slowly
Because probate is administered and overseen by a court, the process can move slowly and delay asset distribution to intended beneficiaries. The court has many duties that can slow down the process, including:
Appointing a personal representative for the estate
Overseeing the representative actions
Approving the required estate inventory and accounting
Settling beneficiary disputes
Approving final distribution of assets
Overseeing a personal representative’s request for commissions and/or attorney’s fees
Approving expenses incurred by the estate during the administration process
Additionally, if there are any issues relating to the will’s validity or coercion brought by an interested party contesting the will, the state’s probate court must handle this issue as well; it can severely delay the probate process depending when the petition to contest was filed.
Probate is Costly
Though regular estate probate fees in Maryland are nominal and based upon the value of the regular probate estate, the estate’s personal representative can take a chunk out of sizeable estates. In addition to an $1,800 fee for estates over $20,000, the representative may be entitled to an additional 3.6 percent of the value exceeding $20,000. Additional fees may also be incurred if the court must assign attorneys to protect the interest of incapacitated or minor heirs.
Speak to a Maryland Estate Planning Attorney Today
Creating your estate plan is a huge step forward in ensuring the people you intend receive designated assets from your estate and your wishes on various critical issues are followed. However, even if your plan mirrored your intentions exactly when created, it is important to remember if life does not always go as plan your desires may change along as the situation does. To make sure that your estate plan stays in line with the current state of your family relationships and your finances, schedule a consultation with our office and let's get started.