Maryland Small Estates General Summary Law


Wills and Estates – Small Estates – Maryland

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Small Estates General Summary: Small Estate laws were enacted in order to enable heirs to obtain property of the deceased without probate, or with shortened probate proceedings, provided certain conditions are met. Small estates can be administered with less time and cost. If the deceased had conveyed most property to a trust but there remains some property, small estate laws may also be available. Small Estate procedures may generally be used regardless of whether there was a Will. In general, the two forms of small estate procedures are recognized:

1. Small Estate Affidavit -Some States allow an affidavit to be executed by the spouse and/or heirs of the deceased and present the affidavit to the holder of property such as a bank to obtain property of the deceased. Other states require that the affidavit be filed with the Court. The main requirement before you may use an affidavit is that the value of the personal and/or real property of the estate not exceed a certain value.

2. Summary Administration -Some states allow a Summary administration. Some States recognize both the Small Estate affidavit and Summary Administration, basing the requirement of which one to use on the value of the estate. Example: If the estate value is 10,000 or less an affidavit is allowed but if the value is between 10,000 to 20,000 a summary administration is allowed.

Maryland Summary: Under Maryland statute, where as estate is valued at less than $30,000, an interested party may, file a petition requesting authority to administer a small estate. If the register finds that the petition and additional information filed in the proceeding is accurate, he shall appoint a representative for the estate, direct payment of the deceased’s debts, and distribute the remainder of the proceeds of the estate.

Maryland Requirements: Maryland requirements are set forth in the statutes below.

TITLE 5. OPENING THE ESTATE
Subtitle 6. Small Estates

§ 5-601. Administration in accordance with subtitle.

(a) Administration – In general.- If the property of the decedent subject to administration in Maryland is established to have a value of $20,000 or less as of the date of the death of the decedent, the estate may be administered in accordance with the provisions of §§ 5-602 through 5-607 of this subtitle.

(b) Same – Prior to filing initial account in administrative proceedings.- If, before the filing of an initial account in administration proceedings instituted under Subtitle 3 or Subtitle 4 of this title, the property of the decedent subject to administration in Maryland is established to have a value of $30,000 or less as of the date of the death of the decedent, the estate thereafter may be administered in accordance with the provisions of §§ 5-602 through 5-607 of this subtitle.

(c) Surviving spouses.- If the surviving spouse is the sole legatee or heir of the decedent and if before the filing of an initial account in administration proceedings instituted under Subtitle 3 or Subtitle 4 of this title, the property of the decedent subject to administration in Maryland is established to have a value of $50,000 or less as of the date of the death of the decedent, the estate thereafter may be administered in accordance with the provisions of §§ 5-602 through 5-607 of this subtitle.

(d) Determination of value.- For the purpose of this subtitle, value is determined by the fair market value of property less debts of record secured by the property, as of the date of death, to the extent that insurance benefits are not payable to the lien holder or secured party for the secured debt.
[An. Code 1957, art. 93, § 5-601; 1974, ch. 11, § 2; ch. 649, § 1; 1978, ch. 863; 1982, chs. 778, 779; 1983, ch. 222; 1987, ch. 614; 1988, ch. 2, § 6; 1997, ch. 693; 2000, ch. 118.]

§ 5-602. Petition for administration.

A petition for administration of a small estate may be filed by any person entitled to administration pursuant to § 5-104 and shall contain, in addition to the information required by §§ 5-201 and 5-202:

(a) A statement that the petitioner has made a diligent search to discover all property and debts of the decedent;

(b) A list of the known property and its value;

(c) A list of the known creditors of the decedent, with the amount of each claim, including contingent and disputed claims;

(d) A statement of any legal proceedings pending in which the decedent was a party.
[An. Code 1957, art. 93, § 5-602; 1974, ch. 11, § 2.]

§ 5-603. Proceedings after petition.

(a) Determinations on petition.- If the register finds that the petition and additional information filed in the proceeding is accurate, he shall:

(1) Direct that the petitioner serve as personal representative of the small estate and issue additional letters of administration as needed;
(2) Direct the immediate payment of the allowable funeral expenses as provided in § 8-106 and the family allowances provided in § 3-201;
(3) Direct sale of property as may be necessary to satisfy expenses and allowances; and
(4) If it appears that there will be property remaining after the payments, expenses and allowances, admit a will to probate and direct that notice be given in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.

(b) Notice.-

(1) If the register directs a proceeding in accordance with subsection (a) (4) of this section, unless notice of the appointment of a personal representative appointed under Subtitle 3 or Subtitle 4 of this title has been published one or more times notice shall be given once in the form required by § 7-103 of this article, but the period within which objection must be made to the action is 30 days from the date of publication of notice and the period within which claims must be filed is the earlier of the following dates:

(i) 6 months after the date of the decedent’s death; or
(ii) Thirty days after the personal representative mails or otherwise delivers to the creditor a copy of a notice in the form required by § 7-103 of this article or other written notice, notifying the creditor that his claim will be barred unless he presents the claim within thirty days from the mailing or other delivery of the notice. The personal representative shall comply with the provisions of § 7-103.1 of this article.

(2) If the register directs a proceeding in accordance with subsection (a) (4) of this section and if notice of the appointment of a personal representative appointed under Subtitle 3 or Subtitle 4 of this title has been published one or more times, the notice provisions of § 7-103 of this article and the time limits specified therein shall apply.
[An. Code 1957, art. 93, § 5-603; 1974, ch. 11, § 2; 1982, ch. 778; 1987, ch. 614; 1988, ch. 6, § 1; 1989, ch. 496, § 1; 1992, ch. 226.]

§ 5-604. Bond, compensation, duties and liability of personal representative.

(a) Bond; compensation.-

(1) Unless bond is expressly excused by the will or by the written waiver of all interested persons, a person appointed as a personal representative in accordance with § 5-603 (a) (1) of this subtitle shall be required to give bond if the estate is established to have a gross value of $10,000 or more after the payment of expenses and allowances under § 5-603 (a) (2) of this subtitle.
(2) If the estate is established to have a gross value of less than $10,000 after the payment of expenses and allowances under § 5-603 (a) (2) of this subtitle, a person appointed as a personal representative in accordance with § 5-603 (a) (1) of this subtitle may not be required to give bond.
(3) A personal representative under this subtitle is not entitled to receive commissions for the performance of the duties of a personal representative.

(b) Duties.- After the expiration of 60 days following publication of the notice required by § 5-603 (b), the personal representative shall file proof of publication of the notice and a list of all claims, including contingent and disputed claims, and the amount of each filed since the original petition. The court shall hear objections filed pursuant to the notice and, if satisfied that all action taken pursuant to this subtitle is proper, shall direct the petitioner to pay all proper claims, expenses, and family allowance and to distribute the net estate in accordance with the will or, if the decedent died intestate, in accordance with Title 3, Subtitle 1.

(c) Liability.- The personal representative does not incur any personal liability by his payment of claims or distribution of assets in accordance with this subtitle if, at the time of payment or distribution, he has no actual knowledge of a valid unbarred claim which has not been filed with the register.
[An. Code 1957, art. 93, § 5-604; 1974, ch. 11, § 2; 1989, ch. 496, § 1; 1993, ch. 416.]

§ 5-605. After-discovered property.

Property of the decedent discovered after the filing of the petition shall be reported immediately by supplemental petition. If no administration was had in accordance with § 5-603 (a) (4) because of the failure to include after-discovered property in the original petition, the register shall direct appropriate proceedings. If after-discovered property increases the gross value of all property of the decedent to more than $20,000, any further proceeding may not be had under this subtitle, but the administration shall proceed under the other provisions of the estates of decedents law.

[An. Code 1957, art. 93, § 5-605; 1974, ch. 11, § 2; ch. 649, § 1; 1978, ch. 863; 1983, ch. 222; 1987, ch. 614; 2000, ch. 118.]

§ 5-606. Fees.

(a) In general.-

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, for all services listed in § 2-206 (b) (1) of this article that a register performs in connection with a small estate, the register shall receive the fees under subsection (b) of this section instead of the fees under § 2-206 (b) (2) of this article.
(2) For each additional certificate of letters over 4 furnished in connection with a small estate, the register shall receive the additional fee under § 2-206 (c) of this article.

(b) Rates.- Fees for a small estate shall be assessed on the value of the small estate.

[1989, ch. 656, § 2; 2000, ch. 118.]

§ 5-607. Applicability of other provisions of article.

Except to the extent inconsistent with the letter and the spirit of this subtitle, all other provisions of the estates of decedents law shall be applicable to a small estate.

[An. Code 1957, art. 93, § 5-607; 1974, ch. 11, § 2.]