Probate is the process by which the court administers the estate of a person who has passed, and settles all unresolved issues as well as oversees the distribution of any remaining property.
There are various types of administration procedures- each depending on the size of an estate and the number of beneficiaries and interested parties involved. Having an experienced probate lawyer will ensure that all aspects of this process are correctly handled, estate tax returns are filed and the balance of the estate is distributed in an expeditious manner.
Historically, the term Probate refers to the process where a court determines the validity of a Last Will and Testament. Currently, this term is also used for the legal proceeding where the estate of a decedent is opened and administered through to its conclusion.
The administration of an estate in Maryland includes but is not limited to:
- Completion of all paperwork to open the estate
- Obtaining Letters of Administration, which is an order appointing the Personal Representative (executor)
- Completion of the Inventory, establishing the date of death value of all assets in the estate
- Completion of the Information Report, establishing the date of death value of all assets that pass to co-owners, or named beneficiaries, who are still subject to Inheritance Tax
- Payment of all valid debt
- Completion of the Final Administrative Accounting, which brings the date of death value of estate assets forward by adding all income those assets have generated and subtracting all expenses
- Distribution of the net estate
The administration of an estate can involve more complex matters such as the appearance of federal and state estate tax, attempts to invalidate a will, and other litigation matters stemming from heirs and other parties who may have claims against the estate.
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