How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in Maryland?

When someone close to you passes away, they might have intended you to take ownership of property or personal belongings. To make sure that ownership is properly and legally transferred to intended heirs, the deceased’s estate might need to be probated.

The probate process is how the state transfers ownership of property after someone passes away. There is no strict limit for how large an estate must be for probate to be necessary. Instead, probate is always necessary if the estate’s assets exceed the debts. However, the law does make some distinctions between larger estates and smaller estates. A small estate is usually worth under $50,000. If you are unsure of the size of the estate, speak to our attorneys. Probate might still be necessary if your loved one has a very small estate. Simply taking over your loved one’s property and belongings, even when there is no one around to stop you, might not be enough to make sure you have legal ownership.

If you recently lost a loved one, call our Maryland wills and estate planning lawyers to discuss whether probate is necessary. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.

How Big Does an Estate Need to Be to Go to Probate in Maryland?

According to the Maryland Register of Wills, there is no exact requirement for how large an estate must be before it must go to probate. According to the Register of Wills, an estate should be opened and probated if the deceased person owned any property in solely their name or as a tenant in common. There is no minimum amount of money or value that must be shown. If the deceased person owned property amounting to just $100, it should still be probated.

When it comes to probating an estate in Maryland, the law does not make much of a distinction between real property and personal property. People often assume that if a deceased person did not own any real property, there is no need for probate. Perhaps they believe the surviving family will divide the deceased person’s personal belongings among themselves without any legal intervention. However, even when an estate only includes items and objects consisting of personal belongings, our Gaithersburg, MD wills and estate planning attorneys can help you have them probated.

Perhaps one of the few instances where probate is not needed for an estate is where the estate’s debts exceed the assets. If your deceased loved one owed more than they owned, creditors might state their claim to the estate. By the time creditors have been paid, there might not be anything left to probate. If you are unsure of how big your loved one’s estate is or what kind of debts they might owe, speak to an attorney immediately.

What Happens When an Estate is Probated in Maryland?

While most people have probably heard of a will before, many are unfamiliar with probate. Even when all rules and requirements are adhered to, a will on its own might not be enough to transfer property from the deceased person’s estate to the heirs named in the will. The will must go through probate and be properly administered. To initiate probate proceedings, a petition must be filed.

How to Start the Probate Process

The petition should be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. According to Md. Code, Ests. & Trs. Art.,§ 5-201(b), the petition must include specific details about the estate. First, we must include information about the deceased person, including their name, where they lived, and when they passed away.

Next, we need details about the person filing the petition and whatever interests in the estate they might have. If other proceedings regarding the estate have been filed elsewhere in the State of Maryland, we must include information about these other proceedings.

We must also indicate whether the deceased person died intestate. When someone dies intestate, it means they did not leave behind a will indicating how they wish their estate to be distributed. If there is a will, we must include the names and addresses of any witnesses to the will.

What Happens During Probate

The probate process can be simple and quick or frustratingly time-consuming. How probate proceeds depends largely on the size of the estate in question and the demands of the will. When an estate is probated, the personal representative distributes property in the estate according to the terms of the will. Some wills are very clear about the deceased’s last wishes, while others are not.

You can think of probate as the legal transfer of ownership over the deceased person’s property. When someone is alive and wants to sell their car, they must transfer the title to the buyer and file paperwork with the Department of Transportation so that the state knows someone else now owns the car. If someone is no longer alive, title and ownership of something like a car is done through probate.

Things can get complicated when people disagree about the terms of the will. This is not uncommon when valuable property, like homes and real property, is distributed through probate.

What Makes a Big or Small Estate in Maryland?

There is no minimum requirement for the size of the estate to require probate, but the size of the estate might indeed be an important detail. If an estate belonging to someone with no surviving spouse is worth less than $50,000, it is considered a small estate. Similarly, an estate worth less than $100,000 when there is a surviving spouse is also considered a small estate.

Small estates are generally simpler to probate because there are fewer filing requirements and legal hurdles to clear. Larger estates tend to take more time to administer through probate. In either case, speak to a lawyer about how to probate the estate.

Call Our Maryland Wills and Estate Planning Lawyers for Assistance

If you recently lost a loved one, call our Columbia, MD wills and estate planning lawyers to discuss whether probate is necessary. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.