What is a Child Entitled to When a Parent Dies without a Will in Maryland?

When parents die without wills, their children will still inherit some or all of their assets in Maryland.

Generally speaking, assets are split between a decedent’s living children and spouse, to varying degrees. For example, in Maryland, if a decedent is survived by a spouse and minor children, the spouse gets half and the children get half. But, if the decedent is survived by a spouse who is not the parent of their adult children, the living spouse gets more than half of assets. Children will get the assets and property they are entitled to after everything has gone through probate. Even though your children will inherit your assets upon your death, regardless of whether or not you have a will, writing a will is still necessary to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death.

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

What Are Children Entitled to When Parents Die without Wills in Maryland?

Dying intestate means dying without a will. This can pose problems for descendants and might make a descendant’s children ensure what they are entitled to. Fortunately, Maryland’s intestacy laws are quite clear about how the assets of a deceased person without a will must be handled.

If a person dies without a will, and they do not have a surviving spouse, all of their assets will be equally divided among their living children according to Md. Code, Ests. & Trs. Art., § 3-103.

If a person dies without a will and they have a living spouse and minor children, the spouse will inherit half of the decedent’s assets, and the children will inherit the rest, according to Md. Code, Ests. & Trs. Art., § 3-102(b). If a decedent has no minor children, their assets will go to their spouse.

In the event that a decedent has a surviving spouse and any surviving adult children who are not the children of the current spouse, the surviving spouse will get the first $100,000 of the estate plus one-half of the rest of the assets, and the surviving children will get the remaining half, according to Ests. & Trs. Art., § 3-102(c). This could mean that the surviving spouse gets the entire estate, depending on its size. Writing a will can eliminate this possibility, allowing the testator to designate assets according to their own design.

Exactly how much children inherit from parents who pass away intestate will depend on the size of estates, the marital status of their parents, and the number of siblings and half-siblings they have.

How Do Children Get What They Are Entitled to When Parents Die without Wills in Maryland?

Before someone can the inheritance they are entitled to, their deceased parent’s property must go through probate in Maryland. This will be the case whether the parent died with a will or without a will.

Not writing a will does not mean a person’s children can recover assets without dealing with probate. All probate property must go through probate in Maryland. Probate property refers to any property that was solely in the decedent’s name at the time of their death. Assets that cannot be probated are those that had designated beneficiaries prior to a person’s death. For example, suppose your parent had a life insurance policy that named you and your siblings as its sole beneficiaries. In that case, you can receive the funds from that policy without going through probate. Assets put into trusts also do not go through probate.

If your parent had any assets like bank accounts or real estate that were in their name only, such assets must be probated, even if your parent did not have a will. When opening an estate for a decedent without a will, the court will appoint a personal representative, which may be the decedent’s spouse or adult child.

Should You Write a Will if Your Children Will Still Be Entitled to Your Assets in Maryland?

Even though Maryland’s intestacy laws will ensure that your children receive a portion of your assets after your death, if you do not have a last will and testament, you should still write a will.

Having a will is always better than not having one. By writing a will, you can designate certain assets to certain beneficiaries. You can divide up your property as you see fit, not as Maryland’s intestacy laws see fit.

Intestacy laws only account for certain familial situations, not all. For example, you might have grandchildren who you want to include in your will or honorary children, like close family friends, who you want to receive some of your assets upon your death. According to Ests. & Trs. Art., § 1-207(a)(1), adopted children are treated the same as biological children, meaning they will inherit assets in the same manner if their adopted parent dies without a will in Maryland. By comparison, foster children and stepchildren do not automatically get a share of a decedent’s estate if they are not included in a will.

Writing a will allows you to dictate your wishes for your assets and property after your death, whatever they might be. For example, there might be charitable causes close to your heart that you would like to designate some assets to in your will.

If you die without a will, your assets might not be distributed how you would like, possibly leaving some family members or loved ones out and including those you did not wish to see inherit from you. As your family grows, we can update your will by executing a codicil to include new children, grandchildren, and loved ones.

Call Our Maryland Lawyers Today

Call the Towson, MD wills and estate planning lawyers of Rice, Murtha & Psoras now at (410) 694-7291 to get a free case analysis.