More than 40 years experience

Probate

Probate

Experiencing the loss of a loved one is never easy. Distributing their assets can be difficult emotionally and legally. It can be complicated. If you are just beginning this process or if you are in the middle of administering an estate and need assistance, Michael can help.

Whether with or without a will, complications can still arise and prolong the process Michael strives to alleviate the stress of those going through the process.

Michael typically helps with:

  • Whether the will is valid and appropriate for probate, determining which form of probate is appropriate, and filing a petition for probate;
  • Preparing the list of interested persons;
  • Preparing petition/order to pay funeral expenses;
  • Preparing petition certificate of publication and notice to creditors;
  • Preparing and filing inventory and providing proper notices;
  • Preparing and filing various final income and possibly estate tax returns;
  • Preparing and filing administration accountings and possibly petition for distribution;
  • Attend hearings in the Orphans’s Court;
  • Assist in the review of various arrangements and agreements relating to the sale of real property;
  • Assist with marshaling of assets;
  • Assist with the liquidation/transfer of businesses and/or income producing properties; and
  • Work with the personal representative and usually other interested persons with questions and dealing with the PR’s obligations.

There are many other tasks which need to be done and many questions which occur during the process.

How attorneys are paid in Maryland is a difficult issue which tends to vary from case to case. The Maryland Code Sections ET §§ 7 – 602 and 7 – 603 point out 2 issues (1) determining whom the attorney represents and (2) the problem of fees as opposed to commissions. This is far too complex to set forth here, there is no simple rule. However, all attorney’s fees in probate, with a few exceptions, are subject to control by the Orphans Court.

Perhaps, among the most important services which a probate attorney provides is to reduce family conflict, tensions, and chaos. Typically absent a lawyer many family members want to be part of the probate process. This adds confusion, disappointment, and encourages the feeling the personal representative is hiding something. Obviously, the more people who are involved in the probate process, the more difficult the process is, if these people disagree on the best way to approach issues, intrafamily arguments and conflicts grow. Sometimes family rifts caused by the administration of an estate are never repaired. Typically a lawyer reduces conflicts and provides clarity which family members might otherwise not have. A probate lawyer tends to reduce the likelihood someone will be accused of mishandling assets or improper distributions.

In Maryland probating an estate typically takes between 9 months and 15 months. There are various deadlines to be met. Documents need to be filed with the Register of Wills and/or the Orphans Court. A probate lawyer can typically expedite this process with fewer mistakes and smoother processing.

There are frequently debts owed by the decedent and separate debts owed by the estate. It is necessary to take care of these financial responsibilities, other times not. It is important to pay only those debts which are legal obligations. A competent probate lawyer can help through the morass in determining what bills are required to be paid and those which are not. The more complex the estate, the more difficult these determinations may be. Just because a creditor sends a bill, does not necessarily mean there is a legal obligation to pay it. In addition, the estate may have debts, for example the heating bill at the residence of the decedent after death, which should be treated as an administrative obligation and expense. There are different classes of debts with different rules for payment. This creates the potential problem of the overpayment or underpayment of debts.

Even if you can handle the probate process on your own, does not mean you should. The lawyer can expedite the process, make it smoother, help eliminate roadblocks, and provides a professional support which you may need.
Let Michael help.

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Phone: (410) 321-0040