When a friend or family member dies, what happens next depends on whether or not the deceased has a Last Will and Testament, frequently just called a Will, which outlines exactly who and how their estate is to be handled. Overseeing the distribution of the estate, in this case, is done by a personal representative, also called an executor. The deceased most likely nominated an individual in their Will to serve as the personal representative. However, if the deceased does not have a will, the probate court will need to appoint a personal representative, or an administrator, if there is a question about who should serve in that role. So, when a friend or family member dies and does not have a will or estate plan in place, what most want to know is how to file to be an administrator of an estate or personal representative in the state of Maryland.
How to File to Be an Administrator of an Estate in Maryland
“Each estate has one or more people appointed to act on its behalf,” explains Cynthia Gaffney, PocketSense. “An administrator is an individual appointed to dispose of the assets of the estate, manage any creditors, and pay fees out of the estate for any required attorneys, appraisers, or accountants.”
But what you want to know is how to file to be an administrator of an estate.
In Maryland, you will need to complete a “Petition for Administration” (petition for small estates OR regular estates, depending on the estate’s value) to be appointed as personal representative to administer the estate. When determining the estate’s administrator, Maryland first gives priority to the individual nominated in the Will then the spouse of the deceased or the deceased’s adult children (biological or adopted), then parents, and then siblings. If you find yourself down the pecking order, but wish to serve as administrator of the estate, you must have each person with greater priority sign a “Consent to Appointment of Personal Representative” signed by all those who have priority over you. For example, if the deceased’s brother wishes to act as administrator, he will need to get permission from any surviving spouse, any and all adult children, and any and all surviving parents. Then can the petition move forward. However, if the people with greater priority do not sign the consent, you will need to request the probate court to appoint you and a hearing will be conducted.
Before a personal representative can be officially appointed, a “List of Interested Persons,” including name, address, and relationship to the deceased must be filed. An interested person is anyone who would inherit from the deceased by either being named in the will or because Maryland law considers them to be an “heir” under state intestacy laws. This typically includes the deceased’s spouse and biological or adopted children (but not step-children or foster-children unless named in the Will). If the deceased does not have a spouse or children, the list may include parents (not step-parents), siblings and half-siblings (not step-siblings), grandparents, great-grandparents, and cousins.
When appointing an estate administrator, the probate court will also take into consideration the following personal attributes.
- An estate administrator must be well-organized
- An estate administrator must have strong communication skills
- An estate administrator must have integrity
- An estate administrator must be impartial
When the Register of Wills or Orphans’ Court appoints an administrator of the estate, it grants the representative Letters of Administration, which empowers the representative to distribute the assets in the estate and demonstrates their authority to other people and companies. After this, the estate administrator must complete the remaining steps to manage the estate, while also meeting several deadlines under Maryland law throughout the process.
Still Unsure How to File to Be an Administrator of an Estate in the State of Maryland?
PathFinder Law Group can help! We are an estate planning law firm in Towson, Maryland with over 15 years of experience. Our team provides legal guidance that comes from the heart and our solutions are tailored to fit your individual needs. To contact PathFinder Law Group about your Estate Administration needs, please complete our Contact Us form, call (443) 579-4529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to guide you through life’s milestones in a way that is compassionate and reassuring.