A question asked all the time is, “What’s the difference between the Orphans’ Court and the Registrar Wills?” In most jurisdictions within the state of Maryland they’re actually in the same place, sometimes they even use the same office space. It can be really confusing. The short answer is that the Register of Wills is for administrative probate, and the Orphans’ Court is for judicial probate.

For more information on the probate process as a whole, read our in-depth Maryland probate article here.

Check out Maryland attorney Frank Gray’s video below for an explanation on the difference.

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The following article is very specific to the state of Maryland. Remember, practices are different state to state.

Register of Wills vs Orphans’ Court: What’s the Difference?

orphans court vs register of wills

Maryland has a really archaic and sometimes confusing court system. The state has both a Register of Wills and an Orphans’ Court. These two offices are both used for probate and can often get confused for one another. The biggest difference between the Register of Wills and the Orphans’ Court is the type of probate each office deals with.

Maryland Register of Wills is For Administrative Probate

It is most common for regular estates to be open and closed through administrative probate. Administrative probate is a proceeding that is initiated by an interested person with the Register of Wills for the appointment of a personal representative and for the probate of a will, or the determination of intestacy of the decedent.

For more on the Register of Wills Forms, go here.

Maryland Orphans’ Court is For Judicial Probate

If a case goes through judicial probate, there are questions regarding the validity of all or part of the will or estate. Judicial probate might also apply if there if there is more than one qualified person applying to become the personal representative. Through judicial probate, the court system will intervene to decide these disputes.

For more information on Maryland Probate check out the following YouTube video from Frank Gray.

Do you have more questions on Maryland Probate, the Register of Wills, or the Orphans’ Court?

At Chesapeake Wills & Trusts, we’re here to help you protect your family, assets and life savings.

We have a detailed article on the Register of Wills Forms to read through as well.

As Maryland estate planning attorneys, we are passionate about educating our clients so they can make the right decisions to secure a safe, happy, financially stable future.

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