Probate Administration: The determination of how an Estate will be administered.

As stated in the article below entitled “Probate Administration - Gathering Information”, it is important to identify a decedent’s probate assets and the date of death value of those assets.  Once the value of the probate assets is ascertained, a determination can be made astowhetheraPetitionforRegular Estate Administration,  or a Small Estate Petition For Administration, should be prepared and filed with the Register Of Wills.  

If the decedent died after October 1, 2012, a determination as to how an estate will be administered is made as follows.  Subject tothe following paragraph, if the sole heir or legatee is the surviving spouse, and the decedent owned probate assets valued at $100,000.00 or less,  thenaSmall Estate Petition For Estate Administration can be filed; whereas if probate assets exceed $100,000.00 the estate must be administered as a Regular Estate.  In the event that the heirs or legatees do not include a surviving spouse, or consist of a surviving spouse and other individuals, then if the value of the assets are less than $50,000.00 a Small Estate Petition can be filed, whereas if the assets are valued at more than $50,000.00 a Petition For the Administration of a Regular Estate is required to be filed.

It is important that when valuing the assets of a small estate that value be computed as follows.  At the present time, Maryland law provides that value is determined by the fair market value of the property, less debts of record which are secured by that property as of the date of death onlyto the extent that insurance benefits are not payable to the lien holder or the secured party for the secured debt.

Once a determination is made as to how an estate is to be administered, thecorrect Petition form must be completed and filed with the appropriate Register Of Wills. At the current time, the form to submit to open a small or regular estate are similar in that pages 1 and 2 of the forms request the same information.

The Petition forms however differ in the information requested in the Schedule which is attached to eachPetition.  For example, a Petition ForRegular Estate Administration, requires that thePersonal Representative complete a“Schedule A”.   As stated in the title of Schedule A,  the Personal Representativeis only required to provide a good faith“Estimated Value of Estate and Unsecured Debts”.  When the Inventory is later filed in the administration of a Regular Estate, the value of the probate assets must be precisely stated, and documentation supporting those valuations must be filed with the Inventory. Schedule A, also requires the submission of an “approximate value of unsecured debts”.

Schedule “B” which accompanies a Small Estate Petition For Administration, requiresa more precise listing of “all of the property and debts of a decedent”.  The Personal Representative is required to list all real and personal property owned by the decedent, either individually, or as tenant in common with others, and all other property that the decedent would be entitled to. As stated in Schedule B, the Personal Representative must set forth the descriptions and values of the property, and state how those values were determined.  For example, the Register Of Wills usually requires that if a decedent owned a car in his or her own name at that time of their death, the Personal Representative must attach a print-out from the National Automobile Dealers Association (www.nada.org),  documenting how the value of that car was determined. Additionally, the Personal Representative is required to list allcreditors and claimants and the amounts claimed by each of them.  In addition to being required, it is also important to list all property and claims because a determination as to the Register Of Wills fee, and whether a Nominal Bond or publication of the opening of an estate will be required.