Probate Administration Simplified
The Probate Administration process in Maryland has been further streamlined with the enactment of a law effective October 1, 2012, which increases the dollar amount of estate assets which may be administered as a small estate.
Previously, in order to administer an estate as a small estate the probate assets had to be valued at up to $50,000.00 if the surviving spouse was the sole heir, or less that $30,000.00 if the decedent died leaving other heirs or legatees.
The new law, which is effective for decedents dying after October 1, 2012, provides that a small estate may now be opened if the probate assets are valued at less than $100,000.00, where the surviving spouse is the only heir, or valued up to $50,000.00 if there are other heirs or legatees in the estate.
The reason this new law will have the effect of further streamlining the probate process is because generally small estates can be administered more quickly than larger valued “Regular Estates”.
Unlike a Regular Estate administration, when administering a small estate the Personal Representative is not required to prepare a detailed Inventory of all estate assets with the date of death value of each asset stated, nor is a formal accounting required to be filed with the Register Of Wills. Other requirements however, must be complied with, including the submission of a Petition For Probate, containing a list of assets, a List Of Interested Persons, bond application, and if the circumstances warrant it, a Notice To Creditors must also be prepared and published.
Although small estates are less time consuming for a Personal Representative to administer, it is important to note that under Maryland law, unlike the administration of Regular Estates, a Personal Representative is not entitled to a commission for the time that they spend in administering a small estate, nor may they pay an attorney to assist them from assets in the estate. Whereas, in a Regular Estate administration, both the Personal Representative and an attorney retained by the Personal Representative to assist the Personal Representative in the administration process may, after Court approval, be paid an amount equal to a certain percentage of the probate assets, for the time that they spend in administering the estate.