Estate Administration

Estate Administration

Estate Planning in Rockville, MD: Estate Planning Attorney in Maryland

The Law Office of Shawn A. Gritz serves clients with a variety of needs with estate planning. Rockville, MD residents and families from across the county and state choose us to serve as their new estate planning attorney in Maryland.

Read on below for more information on how we can help you with estate planning in Maryland, probate court and administration, and more.

Maryland Probate Court

Probate court in Maryland is not as tedious or expensive as many have been led to believe. This simple overview is meant as a general guide to help you understand the types of probate, the general procedures and the potential fees involved.

Each of these procedures can be followed regardless of whether a person passed with a will (testate) or without (intestate).  In all types of estates, income taxes may have to be prepared and inheritance taxes may be due on bequests to certain non-lineal family members and friends. It’s always best to work with a probate administration attorney in Maryland who is familiar with the latest legal codes and can swiftly offer a complete resolution to any issue.

Small Estates, Regular Estates and Modified Administration

  • Small Estate – A “Small Estate” is an estate with a TOTAL value less than $30,000 (or less than $50,000 if everything passes to a spouse).  Debts owed by the estate are not figured into the calculation of the total estate for determination of whether it can be categorized as a small estate.  In order to begin the process of administering a small estate, a person seeking to become the Personal Representative (PR) must file a small estate petition and Information Report with the Register of Wills. The Register then issues Letters of Administration. There are no additional filings required.

The administrative probate fees for a small estate range from $2 – $150 as well as approximately $60 – $100 for publication of notice in a local paper.

  • Regular Estate – In Maryland probate court, any estate that is too large to qualify as a small estate is termed a “Regular Estate”.  In order to begin the process of administering a regular estate,  a person seeking to become the Personal Representative (PR) must file a Petition, Inventory and Information Report with the Register of Wills. The Register will issue Letters of Administration which authorizes the PR to act on behalf of the estate.  Within 9 months and then every 6 months thereafter, the PR must file an Account reporting what has been done with the assets, any income received and any distributions made, which an estate planning attorney in Maryland will be very helpful for.

The administrative probate fees range approximately from $50 for an estate of $10,000 to $2,500 for an estate < $5 Million. There is a surcharge of .02% on anything over $5 Million. Other costs include approximately $100-$250 for a Nominal Bond and $100-$150 for publication of notice in a local paper.

  • Modified Administration – Another option for a regular estate is to opt for “Modified Administration”.  The election to do this must be made within 3 months of the appointment of the PR.  This is an expedited process requiring that within 9 months the PR file a final account listing the assets and how they were (or will be) distributed.  Although the probate costs are the same as a regular estate, less filings are required thus potentially reducing the overall cost to the estate, whether you represent yourself or work with trust and estate lawyers.

What to Do When a Loved One or Close Friend Dies

When a person dies, those close to that individual will have many issues to which they must attend. Often the funeral home is able to assist in providing some direction with respect to financial affairs and other immediate next steps such as obtaining a death certificate.  The following is a general list of steps that should be promptly taken in order to protect the estate’s assets.

  • Locate the decedent’s Will and any other final directions.  When looking at the Will, find out who is designated as the Personal Representative. That person will be responsible for making sure that the decedent’s assets are properly transferred. Check to see if the decedent left a list of assets and/or individuals such as their estate planning attorney in Maryland to contact in the event of their death.
  • If the person owned animals, look for Pet Trust documents directing who is to care for them.
  • Contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (M-F 7am -7pm).  Social Security will likely reclaim the final payment(s) made to a person after death.  Notify them prior to closing an account that had direct deposit so that this can be done before the account is closed.
  • Secure all credit cards, blank checks, account statements, life insurance policies, bonds and look for safe deposit boxes.  Accounts which were in the decedent’s name alone should not be used until an estate account can be opened up.  Jointly held accounts might, depending on how they were titled, immediately pass to the co-owner.  Credit cards and unused checks should be placed in a secure location to ensure that they will not be used.
  • Notify all credit card companies.  Once the credit card company is notified of the death, most companies will remove any late fees accrued after the death. Most companies also understand that payment will be delayed and you may even be able to negotiate a reduced payment of the final bill.
  • Contact the IRS for an estate tax ID number in order to open up an estate account and transfer funds.
  • Inventory any personal property and have it appraised by a competent appraisal company prior to distributing.
  • Keep all receipts.  If you are paying for the funeral or any other expenses, keep your receipts. Many expenses can be reimbursed out of estate assets.
  • If you are, or may be, the Personal Representative, begin process of opening Estate.
  • Consult with a probate administration attorney in Maryland about your obligations and/or rights.  There are many decisions to be made in connection with settling an individual’s affairs. It is important to consult with an experienced Maryland estate planning attorney in order to fully understand any obligations and/ or rights that you have in connection with the Estate.

Contact us today to get started with estate planning in Rockville, MD.

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