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Information about Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Don't have a will? Here's what will happen to your property.

If you die without a Will in Maryland, the law decides who gets your property. You may think that everything will automatically pass to your spouse, but that may not be the case. Here’s a summary of what will happen if you die without a will in Maryland:

If you are survived by a spouse and/or children and/or parents:

  • Survived by a spouse and one or more minor children - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit one-half (1/2) of the probate estate and the deceased person's children will inherit the remaining one-half (1/2) of the probate estate in equal shares (also called “per stirpes”).

  • Survived by a spouse and one or more children, none of whom are minors - In this case the surviving spouse will inherit the first $40,000 of the probate estate and the balance will be distributed one-half (1/2) to the surviving spouse and one-half (1/2) to the deceased person's children, per stirpes.

  • Survived by a spouse and no descendants or parents - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased spouse's entire probate estate.

  • Survived by a spouse and parent or parents and no descendants - In this case the surviving spouse will inherit the first $40,000 of the probate estate and the balance will be distributed one-half (1/2) to the surviving spouse and one-fourth (1/4) to each parent if both are living or one-half (1/2) to the only surviving parent.

  • Survived by descendants and no spouse - In this case, the deceased person's descendants will inherit the entire probate estate, per stirpes.

  • Survived by a parent or parents and no spouse or descendants - In this case, the deceased person's parents will inherit the probate estate in equal shares if both are living or the entire probate estate will go to the only surviving parent.

If you are not survived by a spouse, descendants, or parents:

  • Survived by brothers and/or sisters or descendants of deceased brothers and/or sisters - In this case, the deceased person's brothers and/or sisters and the descendants of deceased brothers and/or sisters (nieces and nephews) will inherit the entire of the probate estate, per stirpes.

  • Not survived by brothers, sisters, or descendants of brothers or sisters - In this case the probate estate will be divided so that one-half (1/2) will go to the deceased person's paternal family and the other half (1/2) will go to the deceased person's maternal family; provided that if there are no survivors on the paternal side of the family or no survivors on the maternal side of the family, then the entire probate estate will go to the other side of the deceased person's family.

  • Not survived by any family members - In the unlikely circumstance that the deceased person is not survived by any family members as described above, then the entire probate estate will escheat to the State of Maryland.

As you can see, if you want to make sure that your estate passes to the person or people you want it to, you will need a Will to carry out your intentions.


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