A Will, also known as a "Last Will and Testament" is only effective after the person who signed it has passed away. That "death event" activates this document and permits one of two main actions. One) Nominate the Personal Representative who will represent your Estate to the Probate Court of Maryland where permission will be asked to distribute your assets as requested in your Will. Two) Identify any persons that you would like to be Guardians of your Minor Children. If you do not have a Trust in place, your Personal Representative will then embark on a 8 - 16 month process called Probate to access and distribute your assets.
Your Last Will & Testament empowers you to:
A will is a set of instructions dictating how your assets will be distributed at death according to your wishes. Wills do not avoid probate and do not have any legal authority until death and is submitted to the Register of Wills. A will may be amended or revoked prior to your death. In your Will, you also name a personal Representative (sometimes referred to as an executor).
If you die without a will your assets will be distributed according to the laws of Maryland and this called “intestate”.
The Personal Representative is a person you selected in your will. He/she is responsible for collecting and distributing your assets and following the instructions in your Will as to how you want your assets distributed to your loved ones.
A will can be changed at any time before death as long as you are of sound mind. It does not become effective until your death. A will may be completely changed or amended. An amendment to a will is called a “codicil.”
To learn more or get started on your estate plan, just schedule a time to visit us for a no obligation complimentary consultation.
Probate is a court procedure which transfers property the deceased owned into the hands of his/her descendants or beneficiaries.
Probate has two functions, it gets creditors paid and it gets property owned by the deceased retitled to the land of the living. It also gives relatives and friends the opportunity to bring suits against those who claim your property.
Probate can take anywhere from 6-18 months, it varies depending on the size and complication of the estate.
If the deceased person had a will, the probate process is still required and involves the court validating that will. In the old days when someone died, you would have to get someone else to say “Oh yes! That is John Smith’s signature”. This is not how it works now, if you have two witnesses and a notary it is presumed to be valid. After the court verifies the will, the person’s assets are then transferred to his/her beneficiaries.
If the deceased person had a revocable living trust in place and placed his/her assets into the trust, the assets will not have to go through the probate process and will be disbursed by the trustee according to the instructions of the trust, not under the law of the state of Maryland.