Choosing a personal representative

Under Maryland law certain individuals have priority over others to serve as Personal Representative of an estate.

The person with the highest priority to serve is the first person who is named as Personal Representative in adecedent’s Last Will and Testament. If that person is not willing or able to serve, then he or she may complete and sign a “Consent To Appointment Of Personal Representative”, which shouldbe filed with the Petition For Probate Administration.

If a decedent died without a Will, the determination of who may serve as Personal Representative of the decedent’s estate is more complicated.  For example, under Maryland law, if a decedent died without a Will, and he left a spouse and a number of children surviving him, then all of the above individuals would have equal priority to serve as Personal Representative. This could result in an contentious situation if all were to serve, especially if the children and surviving spouse, who may not be their parent, do not get along.

Even if a person may have priority over others to serve as Personal Representative, Letters Of Administration may not be granted to certain individuals. That is,  in order to serve as Personal Representative, an individual must be(1) over 18 years of age, (2)  competent, (3) a citizen of the United States, unless the person is a permanent resident of the United States and is the spouse, ancestor or descendant or sibling of the decedent; (4) someone who hasnot been convicted of a serious crime;  (5) a resident of the State of Maryland, or if not,  a resident of Maryland is designated as Resident Agent. Full-time judges of any court are not permitted to serve, unless they are the surviving spouse or a relative of the decedent. Furthermore, subject to certain requirements, Maryland law permits a trust company and other corporations to be appointed as Personal Representative.

Once a person, trust company, or corporation is appointed as to serve as Personal Representative, all persons having any objection to their appointment may file their objection with the Register Of Wills within six (6) months from the date of appointment, whereupon a hearing before the Orphans’ Court will be held.     

Prepared by Valerie A. Rocco; July, 2015.