Trying to become the personal representative of someone’s estate-whether they are a loved one or not-can be stressful and overwhelming. On top of losing a loved one, you are now attempting to navigate the complex legal process of obtaining Letters of Administration in Maryland.
In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to Letters of Administration in Maryland, including what they are, how to obtain them, and how an Estates Administration attorney can help. We hope that this guide will alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty you may be feeling and provide you with the information you need to move forward with confidence.
Table of Contents
What are Letters of Administration in Maryland?
Obtaining Letters of Administration grants the personal representative the authority to handle the deceased person’s assets, pay off their debts, address any tax liability, and distribute their remaining assets to the rightful heirs.
“What do I have to do if I get Letters of Administration?”
If you are provided with Letters of Administration in Maryland, you have various new responsibilities. As personal representative, you are now in charge of the deceased person’s estate, although the estate will have to be administered according to the person’s Last Will and Testament, if one is available.
Some common duties of the personal representative include:
- Identifying and locating assets of the person who passed away, such as bank accounts, real estate, investments, and personal property.
- Paying off the person’s debts, including taxes, outstanding bills, and funeral expenses.
- Managing the estate’s assets, which can include selling real estate or other property, and investing funds until the estate is distributed.
- Distributing remaining assets to the deceased person’s heirs (either designated in the person’s Will or decided in probate court).
- Closing bank accounts and canceling credit cards.
- Keeping extensive records of all financial transactions and estate documentation.
Eligibility and Process
In order to obtain Letters of Administration, you must first submit the following documents to the probate courts:
- The person’s death certificate
- Will (if available)
- Probate court petition
- A brief statement of the person’s assets
- List of interested persons
- A bond to serve as personal representative
- Notice to creditors (only necessary in certain cases)
After the probate courts make a decision, the personal representative will receive the Letters of Administration from the Register of Wills.
Who is Not Eligible to Receive Letters of Administration in Maryland?
Some people are not eligible to be a personal representative. People who cannot be the personal representative include:
People who have been convicted of a “serious crime”
People who have been convicted of a “serious crime” cannot be the personal representative, and thus cannot be given Letters of Administration in Maryland.
In this context, Maryland considers a serious crime to be: “A crime that reflects adversely on an individual’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness to perform the duties of a personal representative” –General Provisions § 5-105.
“Serious crimes” include extortion, fraud, forgery, embezzlement, theft, and perjury.
Other ineligibilities include:
- People under the age of 18
- People who are mentally incompetent
- People who are not U.S. citizens, unless they are permanent residents or related to the person that passed away
- A probate court judge or law clerk
Common Concerns if You Receive Letters of Administration in Maryland
If you have received Letters of Administration in Maryland, making you the personal representative of someone’s estate, you have a lot of new responsibilities. And some of them come with real concerns.
Here are 5 possible concerns:
1. Bond requirements
Some personal representatives may need to post a bond before obtaining Letters of Administration in Maryland. The bond is intended to protect the estate from any potential wrongdoing or mismanagement. However, bonds can be costly.
2. Inventory and appraisal process
The personal representative must take an inventory and make an appraisal of all of the deceased person’s assets. This process can be complicated and time-consuming, especially if the estate is large or complex. The personal representative must ensure that all assets are properly identified and valued to avoid any legal disputes or complications down the road.
3. Creditors and taxes
The personal representative must assess creditor claims against the person who passed away including loans, taxes, or outstanding bills. Any final personal income or estate tax returns must also be filed.
4. Disputes among heirs or family members
Disputes between heirs or family members may also arise, especially if there is no Will or clear estate plan. Disputes can lead to legal challenges, delays, and additional costs. It is the job of the personal representative to ensure that all legal requirements are met and all parties are treated fairly throughout the administration process.
The personal representative is accountable for managing the estate and distributing assets to the heirs according to Maryland law. Any errors or misconduct can lead to legal consequences or personal liability for the personal representative.
Overall, the process of obtaining Letters of Administration in Maryland and administering an estate can be complicated and time-consuming. It is crucial to understand the concerns and potential challenges involved.
Seeking the guidance of an experienced Estate Administration attorney can help to ensure that the process is handled properly and that all legal requirements are met.
How Can an Estate Administration Lawyer Help?
The process of obtaining Letters of Administration in Maryland and administering an estate can be complex. Working with an Estate Administration attorney will provide you with guidance throughout the process.
An experienced Maryland Estate Administration attorney can help you understand the legal requirements for obtaining Letters of Administration. They will assist you with the application process and ensure that you are eligible to receive the Letters of Administration in Maryland.
An experienced attorney can also assist you in inventorying and appraising all estate assets and ensure that they are properly valued. They can also advise you on your obligations to notify and pay off any outstanding creditors and taxes, as well as file any necessary tax returns.
An Estate administration attorney may be able to help resolve any legal disputes among family members or heirs over the distribution of assets, potentially avoiding lengthy legal battles and additional costs.
Lastly, a lawyer can ensure that you are in compliance with all Maryland laws and regulations related to Letters of Administration, protecting you from personal liability for any errors or misconduct during the administration process.
The Bottom Line
The process of applying for and receiving Letters of Administration in Maryland is complicated. You will have to ensure eligibility, submit numerous documents to the Register of Wills (called the “Orphan’s Court” in Maryland), and handle various other obligations. Complications may also arise throughout the process, such as inventorying assets, paying taxes and creditors, disputes between heirs, and more.
Once you have received Letters of Administration and become the personal representative, you will have to administer their estate, which includes appraising assets, paying debts, distributing the estate to the heirs, and much more.
An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the whole process and ensure it is handled properly and with care. They can help you handle the legal complexities of the process, protect your interests, and ensure that the estate is administered in accordance with Maryland law.
PathFinder Law Group is an Estate Administration Firm That Can Help
PathFinder Law Group has been successfully helping scores of Maryland residents to obtain Letters of Administration and administer their estates for over a decade. PathFinder Law Group can ensure that the estate administration process is handled seamlessly and with care.
What is a list of interested persons?
A list of individuals who will receive part of the deceased person’s estate, either named in the person’s Will or decide by the Maryland probate courts. The list of interested persons typically includes spouses, children, and other family members.
How long does it take to settle an estate?
It depends. Simple estates may be settled in approximately 7 to 9 months. More complex or larger estates could take several years.