What Are the Inheritance Rights in Maryland?

The state’s intestacy laws primarily dictate inheritance rights in Maryland. These laws come into play when an individual dies without a valid will, leaving their property and assets to be distributed.

Asserting your inheritance rights is often an emotionally challenging process. However, with the help of our experienced attorneys, you can navigate this process with greater ease and confidence. Our firm has been helping family members obtain the inheritance they are entitled to for many years and possesses a comprehensive knowledge of the complex rules governing inheritance rights. Without a will, the deceased’s property will pass according to what family they have. We can help determine if you qualify.

Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 for a free assessment of your case with our Maryland will and estate lawyers.

An Overview of Inheritance Rights in Maryland

In Maryland, inheritance can take two primary forms:

Testate Succession (with a Will)

Testate succession occurs when a person dies with a valid will that specifies how their property should be distributed. This allows the deceased person to have more control over how their assets are distributed and can make the process of settling their estate much simpler and less stressful for their loved ones. However, the will must be valid to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away.

Intestate Succession (without a Will)

On the other hand, intestate succession occurs when an individual dies without a valid will, meaning that the state’s laws will determine how the deceased person’s assets will be distributed among their heirs. This can be a complicated process, as the laws governing intestate succession are complex and can vary depending on the surviving members of the family. Our Baltimore will and estate attorneys can help you determine where you stand in line if your family member dies without a will. Maryland law sets out very specific rules for how an inheritance is distributed and how much each party gets.

What Are the Intestate Inheritance Rules in Maryland?

When a person dies without a will, they are deemed “intestate,” and their property is distributed according to Md. Code, Ests. & Trs. Art., § 3-101 and the following sections. These laws essentially provide a default plan for the distribution of the decedent’s property, aiming to reflect what most people would likely prefer if they had made a will.

The intestacy laws in Maryland are primarily based on the deceased’s bloodline. Spouses and children are typically considered heirs of an estate, but other family members might qualify depending on their relationship with the deceased, but only when there are no closer relatives to inherit.

Biological Family Members

According to § 3-103, if the deceased person has children but no spouse, then their children will inherit everything. On the other hand, if the decedent has a spouse but no children, then the entire estate will go to the surviving spouse, as per § 3-102(a). Also, if the deceased has children that have passed away but have living grandchildren, the grandchildren would inherit.

In cases where the deceased has both a spouse and children who are under 18, the situation becomes a bit more complex. In such a scenario, the surviving spouse is entitled to inherit half of the intestate property, while the remaining half will be inherited by the children, as per § 3-102(b).

If the decedent has a spouse and adult children, but the children are from a different parent, then the spouse inherits the first $100,000 of intestate property and half of the rest, as directed by § 3-102(c). The remaining half of the estate goes to the descendants.

In cases where the deceased person has no spouse or descendants but has parents who are still alive, then the parents will inherit everything as per § 3-104. Also, if the deceased person has no spouse, descendants, or parents, then the inheritance will go to their siblings.

Further, § 3–104 also contains provisions for whom an inheritance should be distributed to, albeit they are rarer situations. These rules deal with the rights of grandparents and registered domestic partners where the deceased has no spouse or other blood relatives. Who gets what in these situations is complex as it depends on several different factors.

Adopted Children and Stepchildren

In Maryland, adopted children are generally treated the same as biological children when it comes to inheritance. Specifically, under § 1–207, adopted children are entitled to receive an intestate share of their adoptive parents’ estate as if they were biological children.

On the other hand, foster children and stepchildren are generally not entitled to an automatic share of an intestate estate unless they are specifically named in the will. However, § 3–104(c) does allow a stepchild to inherit from a stepparent if the deceased has no living blood relatives and the stepchild was not legally adopted.

What Happens if the Deceased Has No Will or Family in Maryland?

In the event that a person who passes away has not left behind a will or any family members, § 3-105 lays down provisions that dictate the distribution of their property. According to the law, the property will be transferred to the state. The state, in turn, will allocate the property to one of two entities: either the Maryland Department of Health or the county board of education situated in the county where the decedent was domiciled.

How Do I Execute a Will in Maryland?

According to § 4-102, it is mandatory for a will to be in written form and signed by the individual who is making it. The will must also be witnessed by at least two credible individuals who must also sign the document. For the will to be considered valid, you( as the testator) and the witnesses must be in each other’s physical or electronic presence, along with a supervising attorney. However, the supervising attorney can also act as one of the witnesses.

For the will to be considered valid in Maryland, you must be a resident of the state or physically located in Maryland when making the will. Furthermore, each witness must be a resident of the United States and be physically present in the country when witnessing the will.

Once the will has been signed and witnessed, the supervising attorney will then create a certified will, which is considered the original will. The certified will confirm the authenticity of the will and ensure that the testator’s wishes are carried out after their death.

Our Maryland Inheritance Attorneys Can Help You Assert Your Rights

For a free case review with our Dundalk inheritance attorneys, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.