Annapolis, Maryland Probate Attorney
At The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown, we understand that the process of estate planning and navigating the intricacies of probate in Maryland can be overwhelming. But don’t fret – our team of experienced estate planning attorneys is committed to guiding you every step of the way. Serving Annapolis and surrounding regions, our law firm prides itself on offering tailored solutions that ensure your legacy and assets are protected according to your wishes.
Whether you have questions about the probate process or need guidance in other aspects of estate planning, we invite you to reach out to The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown today. Our primary goal is to protect your interests and provide peace of mind for the future. Give us a call at (443) 554-9944 or contact us via our online intake form to get started.
What is Probate?
Odds are. you’ve probably heard of the term “probate” before, but you may not be aware of what all it entails. Probate is the legal process that occurs when a deceased person’s assets are distributed and their debts are settled according to their will, or, if no valid will exists, according to state law. This process ensures that the deceased’s wishes are followed (if they have a will) and that all financial obligations are met.
As you might imagine, probate is often a very lengthy and complicated process. That is why many people choose to equip themselves with a legal professional who can assist them in navigating this complex procedure and ensuring that all assets are allocated correctly, legal requirements are met, and any disputes or challenges are effectively and efficiently resolved. At The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown, our probate attorneys work to ensure that the entire process is carried out as smoothly as possible and in accordance with the law.
How Probate Works in Maryland
In Maryland, an estate must go through the probate process whether or not there is a will. Of course, the probate process plays out differently depending on the circumstances. Here’s a brief overview of how it typically works in Maryland:
Initiation of the Process
When a person passes away, the probate process begins with the submission of the deceased’s will to the Register of Wills in the county where they lived. If there isn’t a last will and testament in place, the process is still initiated, but instead, it follows Maryland’s intestate laws.
Regular Estate vs. Small Estate
Depending on the total value of the assets and certain other criteria, the estate may be classified as a “small estate” or a “regular estate.” A small estate requires less intensive administrative steps and is typically for estates with a limited value. Regular estates tend to go through a more comprehensive process.
Appointment of Personal Representative
The person named in the will as the personal representative may then petition the court to be the personal representative of the estate. If there’s no will, any interested party may petition. The personal representative’s duties include managing the estate, paying off any debts, and distributing assets according to either the will or Maryland’s intestacy laws.
Notification to Creditors and Beneficiaries
Once the probate process is underway, the personal representative must notify all known creditors and potential heirs or beneficiaries of the estate. Creditors typically have a limited period (in Maryland, set by statute to be approximately nine months after date of death or the latter of six months from date of letters of administration) to file claims against the estate for any debts owed.
Settling Debts and Distributing Assets
After all valid claims by creditors are addressed, the personal representative can then distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries as per the will’s instructions or according to Maryland’s intestacy laws.
Closing the Estate
Once all debts are settled and all assets are distributed, the personal representative provides an accounting to the court and requests to close the estate.
Probate in Maryland can be a complex process with many legal intricacies. This is why many individuals choose to work with experienced probate lawyers to navigate the process and ensure all wishes are upheld, laws are adhered to, and requirements are met.
Maryland Probate Fees and Costs
When it comes to probate, there are also various fees and costs to consider. One of these is the probate court fee, which is determined by the value of the estate. This fee is paid to the Register of Wills when the estate is opened and the process is initiated. The fee varies based on whether the estate is classified as a “small” or “regular” estate.
There are also fees for additional services, such as the cost of certified copies of probate documents or publication fees if the estate requires public notice. The personal representative of the estate may also be entitled to a commission for their services. This commission is determined by state law and is also based on a percentage of the estate’s value.
Keep in mind that these are general costs and the actual price of probate can vary based on several different factors. Equipping the services of a Maryland probate attorney can give you a better estimate of anticipated costs and fees depending on your unique circumstances.
How Can an Attorney Help With the Probate Process
Navigating the probate process can be quite overwhelming for many families, to say the least. Fortunately, an Annapolis MD probate lawyer can serve as a valuable guide, providing clarity and direction through a variety of probate issues.
At The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown, our Maryland estate planning attorneys have years of experience handling probate cases in Annapolis and the surrounding areas. As such, we know what it takes to ensure that the best interests of your family are secure during this challenging time, alleviating the burden of legal challenges and making sure that all personal and legal requirements are met.
With the help of an experienced probate lawyer from our law firm, families can find comfort and security knowing they have a knowledgeable and dedicated professional to provide support, advice, and direction during what is often an emotional and difficult period of their lives.
How To Avoid Probate
There are many pros and cons of probate to consider, but in most cases, individuals and families would prefer to avoid the process entirely if at all possible. One way to effectively sidestep the often lengthy and public probate process is by establishing a trust. Unlike a last will, which merely provides instructions for asset distribution upon death and still requires probate, trusts can facilitate a seamless transfer of assets without the need for court intervention.
An Annapolis trust attorney can assist in setting up a trust where assets are transferred and managed by a trustee for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. Reaching out to a seasoned probate attorney at The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown ensures that you take all possible avenues to protect your estate from unnecessary probate procedures.
Call a Local Annapolis, MD Probate Attorney at The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown Today
At The Law Office of Raymond E. Brown, we have plenty of experience dealing with probate, estate planning, and related practice areas. We are also equipped to handle a range of elder law matters as well as asset protection, wills, trusts, power of attorney, advance directives, and more.
Our Annapolis, MD lawyers make sure to prioritize our clients’ needs and wishes with every case we take on. Our ultimate goal as estate planning and elder law attorneys is to safeguard your legacy and ensure it stands the test of time. To speak with a skilled probate attorney in the Annapolis area, call our law offices today at (443) 554-9944 to set up your initial consultation and experience the comfort that comes with knowing your estate is in the most capable hands.
Celebrating Your Life and Family Story: Estate Planning for What Matters Most
Probate and estate planning are not just about the many legal intricacies involved and asset distribution as we described above. These important processes are also deeply intertwined with the stories, values, and legacies individuals wish to leave behind. Attorney Raymond E. Brown explores this connection in his upcoming book, “Celebrating Your Life and Family Story: Estate Planning for What Matters Most.” This book is sure to be an invaluable guide for anyone looking to preserve their life’s story and ensure their family’s legacy is honored.