When you pass away without a will in Maryland, you are said to have died “intestate.” Dying intestate means the state of Maryland determines how your assets are distributed based on its intestacy laws. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach, and unfortunately, it might not align with your personal wishes or the unique dynamics of your family.

How Maryland Intestacy Laws Distribute Assets

In the state of Maryland, if you’re married and also have children, there’s a specific formula that intestacy laws use to distribute your assets. Here’s a closer look:

  1. Married with surviving minor children: Your spouse will receive half and half will be distributed to your minor children.
  2. Married with surviving adult children who ARE NOT the children of the surviving spouse: Your spouse will get the first $100,000 plus half of the remaining probate property and the other half will be distributed to your children.
  3. Married with all surviving adult children are also the child of your surviving spouse: Your spouse will receive 100% of the probate estate.

Should you have multiple children, it’s crucial to note that they will equally divide their half of the personal property and any remaining intestate real property. This distribution could pose challenges if one child believes they should inherit a specific asset over a sibling.

Married Without Children but with Living Parents

If you’re married and don’t have children but have surviving parents, your spouse gets 100% of the probate property.

The Hierarchy Of Heirs For Singles Without Children

For those who are single and without children, the distribution of assets is based on a hierarchy of closest living relatives:

  1. Parents: Your assets will first go to your living parents.
  2. Siblings: If your parents have predeceased you, then your siblings are next in line to inherit your assets.
  3. Extended Relatives: If there are no living parents or siblings, then nieces, nephews, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins come into the picture in a specific order set by Maryland law.

Escheat to the State

In the rare circumstance where you have no identifiable or locatable living relatives, your estate faces what’s known as “escheat.” This means your assets revert to the state of Maryland. Escheating to the state is the last resort, ensuring that assets don’t remain in legal limbo indefinitely. It’s a way for the state to absorb the assets of those who pass away without heirs and without a will.

Why Creating a Will is Crucial for Maryland Residents

By not having a will in place, you’re leaving significant decisions about your assets and your loved ones in the hands of the state. Creating a will ensures that your personal wishes are followed. It offers peace of mind knowing that you’ve provided clear instructions about your assets, guardianship for minor children, and any other specific bequests or instructions.

The Process of Probate in Maryland Without a Will

When you die intestate in Maryland, your estate will still go through probate. Probate is the legal process of settling your estate. This involves appointing a personal representative, notifying creditors, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets according to Maryland’s intestacy laws. Without a will, this process can be more prolonged, more complicated, and may lead to potential disputes among heirs.

Take Control of Your Legacy in Maryland

While no one likes to think about death, taking the time now to create a will can save your loved ones stress, time, and potential conflict in the future. A well-crafted will not only ensures that your assets are distributed as per your wishes, but it also provides a loving, final gesture of care to those you leave behind.

Reach Out to Chesapeake Wills and Trusts in Maryland

For guidance on creating a will or understanding the consequences of dying without one in Maryland, reach out to us at Chesapeake Wills and Trusts 

call today at (443) 234-8127. Our team is dedicated to helping Maryland residents ensure their legacy is preserved according to their wishes.