How Long Does an Executor Have to Settle an Estate in Maryland?

If you have recently been appointed the executor of an estate and are wondering how long probate will take, our attorneys can review your case to estimate a timeline and help you proceed.

There is no way to know exactly how long it will take you to settle an estate before an executor submits a will to probate. That said, executors have deadlines they need to meet throughout probate, such as submitting a list of interested persons, filing inventory and information reports, and filing first and subsequent estate accounts. Especially complex estate matters or claims from interested parties might make settling an estate take longer than anticipated. By preparing all necessary information and forms and submitting them to the probate court in timely fashion, you can settle an estate as quickly as possible in Maryland.

For help with your case from our Germantown, MD wills and estate planning lawyers, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.

How Long Does it Take for an Executor to Settle an Estate in Maryland?

As all estates are different sizes, and probate differs in complexity depending on the case, there’s no set amount of time for an executor to settle an estate in Maryland. That said, there is a general timeline for executors to follow and certain deadlines they must meet along the way.

Filing the Will and Opening the Estate

Suppose you are a testator’s personal representative, also known as the executor of their estate. In that case, you must file their will with the Register of Wills Office promptly after their death if their will has not already been filed. While there is no time limit for executors to open an estate in Maryland, it is best to do so quickly so that you can settle matters as soon as possible. Our Annapolis, MD wills and estate planning lawyers can help executors identify whether estates are small or regular, as there are different forms required for each type of estate. The definitions of small and regular estates can be found within Md. Code, Ests. & Trs. Art., § 5-601. Once you submit the will for probate, the judge will review your qualifications as a personal representative and officially appoint you as the executor of the testator’s will. After that happens, the clock starts counting down, and you will have certain deadlines to meet during the probate process.

Submitting a List of Interested Persons

If you are opening a small estate, you must submit a list of interested persons along with your petition to open a small estate in Maryland. If you are opening a regular estate, you will have 20 days from being appointed an executor to submit the list, according to Md. Code, Ests. & Trs. Art., § 7-104(a). This list will include those named as beneficiaries in the testator’s will and any of their surviving heirs. You must give their names and addresses to the probate court.

Filing Inventory and Information Reports

The next step is filing the inventory and information report with the probate court. You must submit an inventory of all assets solely owned by the testator within three months of your appointment as the executor, according to Md. Code, Ests. & Trs. Art., § 7-201. Within that same timeframe, you must also submit an information report to the probate court. This will include any assets that are not solely in the testator’s name or assets that do not have a designated beneficiary in the will.

Filing First, Subsequent, and Final Accounts

Within nine months of opening an estate, depending on the case, the executor must submit the first account, which involves reporting the initial value of the estate and any activity of its assets, according to Md. Code, Ests. & Trs. Art., § 7-305(a)(1). As laid out in Md. Code, Ests. & Trs. Art., § 7-302, this will include reporting receipts for sales and redemptions, disbursements, income, distributions, and the value of assets. Within six months of the approval of the first account, you can file subsequent accounts that act as an ongoing record of all estate activity. This can continue until the estate is fully administered. After the probate court in Maryland approves the final account, assets can be distributed to beneficiaries, and the estate can be closed. If you fail to file accounts when required to, you might be removed as the executor of the estate.

What Can Make Settling an Estate Take Longer in Maryland?

While the size of a decedent’s estate and the extent of their assets can make settling an estate a longer process, perhaps the most common reason why probate is extended is because of claims against the estate.

According to Md. Code, Ests. & Trs. Art., § 8-103, creditors or interested parties are permitted to file claims against an estate within six months of the testator’s death or two months after receiving a notice from the executor. Interested parties often include family members or heirs left out of a will. Settling an estate issue with creditors can be a challenging process, which is why our lawyers will aim to negotiate a resolution quickly so that you can continue with probate, distribute assets, and close the estate.

Preparation is key to making settling an estate move quickly. Since there are so many filing deadlines to meet during probate, it is important to gather all necessary information about the testator’s estate prior to submitting their will for probate. Our attorneys can help you prepare all necessary forms, including subsequent accounts, so you do not miss deadlines or fall behind.

All wills must be probated in Maryland, meaning executors might run into issues if they ignore their responsibilities and fail to file a will or submit it to probate.

Contact Our Attorneys to Discuss Your Case Today

To schedule a free case assessment from Rice, Murtha & Psoras, call our Maryland wills and estate planning lawyers now.