Maryland Law Firm Focuses on Estate Planning, Probate Matters

Baltimore Probate Attorneys Provide the Guidance You Need

Losing a loved one is one of the most stressful experiences a family can go through, and this stress is often amplified when the estate goes through probate. Not knowing how the government will handle your family’s assets after someone dies can be a very worrisome position to be in, both emotionally and financially.

Whether you have a clear estate plan or no plan at all, the attorneys at Atkinson Law will take the time to talk to you about how you want your estate handled after you pass away. We’ll take care of the details to help ensure that your family will avoid the stress and uncertainty of the Maryland probate process, which can take a year or longer if the will is contested or other delays arise.

What is Probate and Do All Estates Have to Go Through It?

Probate is the legal authority that the state of Maryland gives a court to oversee the distribution of property and assets left behind by a deceased person. State law requires that wills be filed promptly with the court after someone dies. Estates must go through probate to determine the validity of the will and ensure that its provisions are honored. If an estate is considered small (less than $30,000 or under $50,000 if the only heir is a spouse), it may be possible to use a shorter version of probate. 

If the deceased person had a will, probate court will formally recognize a person named as executor, giving them legal authority to transfer property according to the decedent’s wishes. If no written will exists, the probate court will decide who will receive the estate’s assets and will appoint a personal representative to oversee the distribution. If assets are titled solely in the deceased person’s name and do not include a stipulation for automatic succession of ownership in the event of death, those assets will go through the probate process. 

However, with some planning, you can keep an estate out of probate in Maryland. Proceeds from insurance policies, checking accounts, and retirement accounts will generally pass directly to named beneficiaries without going through probate, as will property held as “payable on death,” and assets held in a revocable or irrevocable trust named under the trust document. Property held as joint tenants with right to survivorship or as Tenants by the Entireties will pass to the surviving joint owner without going through probate. 

Proper estate planning can help ensure that your will is recognized by a probate court, allowing surviving family members to avoid the costs and inconvenience associated with the probate process. 

Contact an Experienced Maryland Probate Law Firm

Although you might think your estate is very small and simple, you need to hire an estate attorney to help you avoid the complicated probate process in Maryland. Contact Atkinson Law online or call 410-882-9595 (Baltimore office) or 443-384-0013 (Bel Air Office) to schedule your initial consultation and speak with a competent probate lawyer about how to safeguard your estate today.