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Maryland Intestacy Law

What You Need to Know about Maryland Inheritance Laws

When it comes to ensuring that your loved ones are provided for after you’re gone, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of Maryland intestacy law and how it may affect your estate planning decisions. Since inheritance rights in trusts can be a complex and sensitive matter, working with our Towson inheritance rights attorney is essential. 

At The Grafton Firm, we have extensive experience in estate planning and inheritance law. We are committed to helping our clients navigate the complexities of trusts and inheritance rights to ensure their loved ones are provided for according to their wishes. Contact us today and schedule a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.

Which Assets Pass by Intestate Succession?

When someone dies without a valid will or trust, their assets are distributed according to Maryland’s intestate succession laws. Intestate succession is a legal process that determines who will inherit the assets of a person who dies without a will or trust. 

The Maryland laws of intestacy also prioritize who inherits property first and the percentage of the decedent’s property each person has the right to inherit. Our Towson MD inheritance rights attorney can help you determine the assets that pass by intestate succession in Maryland.

Intestate succession laws only apply to assets that pass through probate. Many valuable assets don’t go through probate and therefore aren’t affected by the laws. These assets will pass to the surviving co-owner or the beneficiary you named, whether or not you have a will. Here are some examples:

  • payable-on-death bank accounts
  • the property you own with someone else in joint tenancy
  • the property you’ve transferred to a living trust
  • vehicles for which you have a transfer on death registration
  • funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement accounts with a named beneficiary
  • real estate for which you have a transfer on the death deed
  • securities held in a transfer-on-death account
  • life insurance proceeds with a named beneficiary

What are Spouses’ Inheritance Rights in Trusts?

In Maryland, spouses have certain inheritance rights when it comes to trusts. These rights may include the spousal elective share and the right to claim against the decedent’s estate. The spousal elective share is a statutory right that allows a surviving spouse to claim a certain percentage of the decedent’s estate, even if the decedent’s will or trust does not name the surviving spouse as a beneficiary. 

In Maryland, if you are married and you die without an estate plan in place, what your spouse gets depends on various factors, such as the length of the marriage, the size of the estate, the needs of the surviving spouse, and the presence of parents or descendants.

Spousal inheritance rights in trusts may vary depending on the type of trust involved. Our Towson MD estate planning attorney can guide how different types of trusts may affect spousal inheritance rights and can help ensure that your wishes are properly reflected in your trust documents.

If You Die With Descendants But No Children Who Are Minors

Your surviving spouse inherits the first $15,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance.

If You Die With Parents But No Descendants

Your surviving spouse inherits the first $15,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance.

If You Die With Children Who Are Minors

Your spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate property.

What are Children’s Inheritance Rights in Trusts?

If you have no spouse and any of your children are alive, they are the only heirs to your estate. The specific inheritance rights of children in trusts can depend on various factors such as the number of children you have, whether or not you are married, whether the child is biological or adopted, whether your children are minors, and whether the trust document specifically names the child as a beneficiary. Our Towson inheritance rights attorney can help you ensure that your children’s inheritance rights are properly addressed in your trust documents.

Children Born Outside of Marriage

If you were not married to your children’s mother when she gave birth to them, they would receive a share of your estate if:

  • you acknowledged paternity in writing
  • you married the mother after their birth and acknowledged your paternity
  • a court has determined paternity
  • you openly recognized them as your children

Adopted Children

Children you legally adopted will receive an intestate share, just as your biological children do. 

Posthumous Children

Children conceived by you but not born before your death will usually receive a share. There is an exception for children conceived by artificial insemination, who will receive a share only if:

  • the child is born within two years after your death
  • you consented in writing to be the parent
  • you consented in writing to the use of your genetic material for posthumous conception


A grandchild will receive a share only if that grandchild’s parent is not alive to receive his or her share.

Foster Child and Stepchild

Foster children and stepchildren you never legally adopted will not automatically receive a share. However, if there are no other blood relatives, the next in line to inherit from you are your stepchildren.

Children Placed for Adoption

If your biological child was legally adopted by your spouse, then it won’t affect their intestate inheritance. However, a child placed for adoption and was legally adopted by another family will not receive a share.

What are Unmarried Couples’ Inheritance Rights in Trusts?

In Maryland, unmarried couples generally do not have automatic inheritance rights when it comes to trusts. If a person in an unmarried couple passes away without a will, their partner will not automatically receive any of that person’s belongings. 

This means that if one partner creates a trust and passes away, the surviving partner may not be entitled to receive any property or assets from the trust unless they are specifically named as a beneficiary in the trust document. Instead, the assets will be disbursed amongst their legally recognized relatives. Our Towson estate planning lawyers can ensure that your inheritance rights are protected in a trust, regardless of your marital status. 

Why Do I Need an Inheritance Rights Attorney in Maryland?

Inheritance rights in trusts are typically determined by the terms of the trust itself and applicable state laws. The law may also impose certain requirements, such as the rights of spouses and children to claim a share of the trust assets, even if they are not specifically named as beneficiaries in the trust document.

Inheritance law issues can be complicated and overwhelming, so seeking legal guidance from our Towson inheritance rights attorneys is important.  At The Grafton Firm, we provide guidance on estate planning, asset protection, tax implications, and other important issues related to inheritance rights in trusts. Our legal team is committed to:

  • Helping you navigate the legal requirements and processes involved in claiming your inheritance rights.
  • Developing a comprehensive estate plan that takes into account your unique needs and goals, and that provides for your loved ones in the most effective way possible.
  • Helping you understand your rights under Maryland law and guide you on how to best protect those rights.
  • Ensuring that your interests are properly represented in any legal proceedings related to your inheritance.

Our legal team has the knowledge and experience to guide you through the legal process and ensure that your interests are protected. If you’re dealing with inheritance issues in Maryland, contact us today and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.


Call Our Towson Inheritance Rights Attorney Now!

Maryland inheritance laws can be difficult to navigate on your own. Mistakes related to inheritance can be costly and time-consuming to correct and can lead to disputes and conflicts among family members. Our Towson inheritance rights attorney at The Grafton Firm can help you identify potential issues and develop strategies to avoid or address them, helping to ensure a smoother and more effective inheritance process.

Our estate planning law firm can guide you in navigating the legal requirements of estate planning and trusts and developing a customized plan that meets your needs and goals. Whether you’re concerned about protecting your assets, providing for your loved ones, or minimizing taxes and other financial obligations, we are here to help. 

Schedule a free initial consultation with us today and take the first step towards securing your future and protecting your loved ones. We also offer the following legal services:

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