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Towson MD Probate Attorney

What You Need to Know About Probate

The probate process in Maryland can be complex and overwhelming, especially for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, which is why working with a trusted Towson MD probate attorney is highly advisable. This court-supervised process can also be confusing, time-consuming, and stressful. It also involves a certain amount of legal responsibility. 

At The Grafton Firm, we can assist you in navigating the probate process, addressing any legal issues that may arise, and ensuring that your loved one’s estate is distributed according to their wishes. We can help you avoid costly mistakes and minimize stress during a challenging time. Contact us now and schedule a free consultation with our skilled Maryland estate planning lawyers to learn more about your legal options.

Why Do I Need a Probate Attorney in Maryland?

When a loved one or family member passes away, his or her estate may need to be probated. Probate is a legal process that can be complex and time-consuming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process or have never dealt with it before. Navigating the probate process can be difficult, which is why it’s crucial to have a qualified Towson MD probate attorney on your side to guide you through it. At The Grafton Firm, we are dedicated to:

  • Explaining the probate process, including the steps involved, the role of the executor or personal representative, and the rights of beneficiaries or heirs.
  • Helping you with estate planning, including creating a will, setting up trusts, and making other arrangements to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are fulfilled after your death.
  • Helping you prepare and file necessary estate planning documents, ensuring they’re completed correctly and on time.
  • Navigating the legal system and ensuring your rights and interests are protected.
  • Mediating disputes between beneficiaries and heirs and finding a fair resolution for everyone involved.

If you’re dealing with probate issues in Maryland, schedule a free consultation with us today to obtain the guidance and support you need.  We can ensure that your interests are protected and that the probate process goes as smoothly as possible. 

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s estate is administered and distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries. During probate, the court will determine whether the will is valid and appoint an executor. It also involves:

  • identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
  • having the property appraised
  • paying debts and taxes
  • distributing the remaining property 

If a person dies without a valid will in place, they are considered to be “intestate.”  In this case, the court follows state intestacy laws to distribute the assets of the decedent. Our knowledgeable Towson MD probate attorney can explain how probate works in Maryland.

How Does the Probate Process Work?

The probate process can be complex and time-consuming, and it often involves a significant amount of legal paperwork and court appearances. It may vary depending on the state in which it occurs, but generally, it involves several steps. Our trusted Towson probate lawyer can help you navigate the process and protect your rights.

File a Petition to Probate

Upon the decedent’s death, the first step in the probate process is to file a petition with the probate court. This step is required regardless of whether the deceased had a will or did not have a will at the time of death. 

Appoint a Personal Representative

The next step is for a probate court judge to appoint an executor or personal representative to administer the estate. The executor or personal representative is responsible for collecting and managing the deceased person’s assets, paying any debts or taxes owed, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. The personal representative will receive “letters testamentary,” which is essentially the probate court giving the personal representative permission to handle the decedent’s estate.

Give Notice to Interested Parties

The executor or personal representative must notify the deceased person’s creditors or other interested parties that the probate process has begun. The notice gives individuals with a legitimate interest in the estate time to make their claim before the property is distributed. Creditors are required to file or assert a claim within the given period or else they lose the right to distribution. 

Create an Inventory and Appraisal of Assets

The executor or personal representative is responsible for identifying and valuing the deceased person’s assets. An inventory should include real estate, personal property, bank accounts, investments, etc.

Pay Debts and Taxes

The executor or personal representative is responsible for paying off any debts or taxes owed by the deceased person’s estate. Valid creditor claims must also be paid. The executor will use estate funds to pay all the decedent’s outstanding bills, funeral expenses, and taxes.

Distribute Assets

After all estate claims, debts, and taxes have been paid, the executor or personal representative can distribute the remaining assets to the deceased person’s beneficiaries or heirs according to their wishes or the terms of their will. If there is no will, then your heirs receive distributions according to state intestacy laws.

Final Accounting and Closing of the Estate

Once all assets have been distributed, the executor or personal representative must file a final accounting with the court. The court will review the final accounting and, if approved, will close the estate.

When is Probate Necessary?

Not everything you own will automatically go through probate. Most states allow a certain amount of property to pass free of probate or through a simplified probate procedure. If the deceased person was married and owned most everything jointly, or did some planning to avoid probate, a probate court proceeding may not be necessary. 

When planning how to handle your estate, our top-ranking Towson probate lawyer can help you know which types of assets go through probate and which ones don’t. Understanding the difference between probate and non-probate assets can help you identify what needs to be explicitly included in your estate plan. 

Probate Assets

A probate asset is anything titled in the name of the decedent alone at the time of their death.  Examples of estate assets that go through probate are:

  • Any bank, stock, retirement, or any financial  account in your name only
  • Cars and other vehicles titled solely in your name
  • Real property titled solely in your name

Non-Probate Assets

On the other hand, there are many instances where property and assets do not need to go through probate. Non-probate assets are any financial accounts, investments, or property that are not legally required to pass through probate after the owner’s death. Non-probate assets allow the property to transfer more smoothly, simplifying the procedures necessary to close an estate.  

When properly established, the  following assets will not be subject to the probate process:

  • Real estate owned in joint tenancy
  • Any property held in a trust
  • Bank and investment accounts with transfer-on-death beneficiaries
  • Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries
  • IRA and retirement accounts with transfer-on-death beneficiaries
  • Lifetime gifts and distributions

Call Our Experienced Towson MD Probate Attorney Now!

When a loved one dies, the administration of the estate can be complicated, even in cases where the deceased had plans in place. Probate may sound intimidating, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the legal system or have never dealt with it before. Depending on the estate, probate does not always have to be an arduously long or expensive process. The more you know about probate, the more you can plan to streamline or avoid it. 

Whether you need help understanding the probate process, preparing legal documents, resolving disputes, or navigating tax issues, our seasoned Towson MD probate attorneys at The Grafton Firm can provide the guidance and support you need. We can guide you through the process and ensure that your interests are protected. Our estate planning law firm understands the challenges of the probate process, and we’re here to help. 

We pride ourselves on providing personalized legal advice to each of our clients, ensuring that your needs are met and your questions are answered. We also have extensive experience in successfully handling bankruptcy cases and civil cases. If you’re dealing with probate issues in Towson and the surrounding areas, schedule a free consultation with us today to learn more about how to protect your assets, your family, and your legacy. Let us help you navigate the probate process with confidence and ease, so you can focus on taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

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