Does Maryland have Inheritance tax and who pays it. 

Yes, it is a tax imposed on the privilege of receiving property from a decedent's estate.  The recipient is responsible for paying the tax, not the estate.

What does it mean to die ‘intestate'?

It means to pass away without a will.

What is the ‘non-probate estate'?

Property that passes outside the probate estate.  Such property can include jointly held assets, life estates, trust assets, payable on death (P.O.D.) assets, and pension and benefit plans including IRAs with named beneficiaries.

What is a family allowance?

A family allowance is money or property passing to an entitled person in addition to property passing under the will or by the laws of intestacy.  Surviving spouses and unmarried children under the age of 18 years are entitled to such an allowance.

Do I have to hire an appraiser for every asset in the estate?

It depends.  The personal representative may  appraise some assets themselves, including the following:

  • Motor
  • Corporate stocks.
  • Debts owed to the decedent.
  • Bank accounts and
  • IRAs, annuities and life insurance proceeds payable to the estate or which have no named
  • Real and leasehold property.

A personal representative must obtain an appraisal by a qualified and disinterested appraiser for all other assets.

Can I get paid to serve as personal representative?

Yes.  The personal representative is entitled to reasonable compensation. If the property subject to administration is not over $20,000, commissions may not exceed 9% of the gross estate. If the property subject to administration is over $20,000, commissions may not exceed $1,800 plus 3.6% of excess over $20,000 of the gross estate.

The decedent had outstanding debts but I am not sure what they are? Is there a deadline by which a claim must be presented?

Yes.  A claim must be presented within the earlier of the following dates:

  • Six months after the date of the decedent's death; or
  • Two months after the personal representative officially notifies the creditor the their appointment.

Does a spouse have the right to renounce a will?

Instead of property left to him or her by a will or if omitted by a will, the surviving spouse may elect to take a one-third share of the net estate if there is also a surviving issue (child or children), or a one-half share of the net estate if there is no surviving issue (child or children).  The election by a surviving spouse to take an elective share must be made within nine months after the date of the decedent's death; or six months after the first appointment of a personal representative under a will.

What is a caveat proceeding?

A caveat of a will is the challenge of the validity of any instrument purporting to be the decedent's will or codicil, whether or not offered for or admitted to probate. A caveat may be filed by an heir of the decedent or a legatee in any instrument purporting to be a will or codicil of the decedent.

If a personal representative has been appointed prior to the petition to caveat being filed, the appointment of the personal representative is reduced to that of a special administrator until a determination as to the validity of the will is made by the court.

Is an estate always required?

If a person dies owning any property in his or her name alone or as   tenant in common, it is necessary to open an estate.

If an estate is not required, do I still have to file the will?

If the decedent did not have any property in their name alone or as a tenant in common, you are still required to file the will with the Register of Wills office in the county in which the decedent was domiciled at the time of death.

Who has priority to be paid if there are insufficient assets?

The personal representative shall make payment in the following order if the assets of the estate are insufficient to pay all claims in full:

  • Fees due to the Register of Wills;
  • Costs and expenses of administration;
  • Funeral expenses not to exceed $15,000);
  • Compensation of personal representative, legal services and commissions of licensed real estate broker;
  • Family allowance;
  • Taxes due by the decedent;
  • Reasonable medical, hospital, and nursing expenses of the last illness of the decedent;
  • Rent payable by the decedent for not more than three months in arrears;
  • Wages, salaries or commission for services performed for the decedent within t   three months prior to death of the decedent;
  • Public assistance claims; and
  • All other claims

A preference shall not be given in the payment of a claim over another claim of the same class. However, claims filed by the Department of Health receive a priority over all other claims of the same class.

Absolute priority is given for debts due to the United States, such as taxes due to the IRS.

What is a resident agent and what are the responsibilities?

A nonresident of the State does not qualify to be appointed personal representative unless on file with the Register of Wills office is an irrevocable designation by the nonresident of an appropriate person who resides in the State.  That person, upon accepting the appointment and signing a form with their address, then becomes the resident agent. The only responsibility of the resident agent is to accept service of process in the same manner and with the effect as if it were served personally in the State on the nonresident.