Can Probate Really Be A Non-Event?
Probate is a slog for some estates for others. The wealthiest among us spend their golden years working on their estate plans, and they do it so well that, by the time the Grim Reaper shows up, most of the decedent’s assets have escaped into trusts and payable on death accounts, so that the estate that reaches the probate court is a fraction of its original size. These tend to be the same people who are so special that they can get a driver’s license without waiting in line at the DMV. Do not assume, though, that just because you belong to the 99 percent, as does everyone from whom you stand to inherit, that probate will be as much of a hassle as everything else is for people in your tax bracket. Some estates only have to go through an abbreviated version of probate, and some do not have to go through probate at all. If your recently deceased relative owned little or no property and you are unsure what to do about probate, contact a Washington DC probate lawyer.
What If the Decedent Did Not Own Any Property?
If the decedent did not own any property in his or her own name alone, then the estate does not have to go through probate. For example, imagine that your grandparents house was in Grandpa’s name only, and if Grandma and Grandpa kept all their money in a joint checking and savings account. If Grandma dies first, her estate will not have to go through probate.
If the decedent wrote a will but did not own any property, the surviving relatives must still file the will with the Register of Wills. When you file the will, you can find out more about whether you will need to open the estate for probate.
What If the Decedent’s Assets Were of Very Modest Value?
Maryland offers a simplified probate process for very small estates; simplified probate usually takes less than two months, compared to between six and twelve months for regular probate. Maryland law defines a small estate as one where the assets are valued at less than $30,000. Estates of up to $50,000 are also considered small if the decedent’s surviving spouse is inheriting the entire estate.
What If the Decedent’s Debts Exceed the Value of His or Her Assets?
Now that almost everyone is in debt, it is unsurprising that some estates come with debts that are even bigger than the value of the decedent’s assets. If the assets are valued at more than $30,000, the estate must still go through probate, even if it is insolvent. In this case, the creditors will take what is available, and there will be nothing left for the heirs to inherit.
Contact Tobin O’Connor Concino P.C. About the Possibility of Avoiding Probate
A probate lawyer can help you find out whether your deceased relative’s estate needs to go through probate and can guide you through the process if it does. Contact us today for help.