Who is allowed to make a will?
To create a valid will, the Testator (the person writing the will) must be at least 18 years old and must have testamentary capacity (be of “sound mind”) at the time the Testator executes (signs) the will.

Should I have a will?
Yes! Everyone adult who owns property or who has assets of value should have a will.  A will  permits you to dispose of your property as you wish, with limited exceptions. A properly written and executed will is essential in order for you to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of in the manner that you intend after your death. And it can make the probate process easier for your loved ones.  A will is an important part of the estate planning process

What if I die without a will?
In Maryland, when a person dies without a will, the assets of their estate are probated and will be distributed according to the laws of  State of Maryland. The laws are administered by the Register of Wills of the county where the deceased lived. If there is a dispute, the matter will be handled in the Orphan’s Court of that county.   (Note: The name of the court that handles estate matters in most counties in Maryland is called The Orphan’s Court, a name that has not changed for centuries, even though the probate process has. The Orphans Court does sometimes handle matters that may involve orphans, but most of the cases in that court concern the administration of the assets of an estate.) If a person dies without a will, the deceased person’s assets do NOT go to the State as so many people mistakenly believe. Under Title 3 of the Maryland Estates and Trusts Annotated Code, if there is no will, in most cases, distribution of the assets in the decedent’s estate will be made to relatives, based upon the relationship of the surviving heirs to the person that has died.

 

Can a will be changed?
Since a will is not effective until a person’s death, a person may change and/or revoke their will any time before their death, so long as they remain mentally competent. If a person is not mentally competent,  they cannot validly make changes to their will.

Where is the best place to keep my will?
The best thing to do with your original will is to file it with the Register of Will in the county where you reside so that you can be sure that your will is located after your death. Your original will is sealed in an envelope and will not be unsealed until your death, unless you request that it be returned to you. The Register of Wills charges a  fee of $5.00 to register your Last Will and Testament. If you elect not to file your will with the Register of Wills, you should keep the original will in a safe place where the person you have chosen to be your personal representative can find it after your death.

What is probate?

Probate is the process by which a person’s assets are administered after their death. It begins with filing a Petition for Probate, and ends when a person’s final account has been approved by the Orphan’s Court and the deceased person’s assets are distributed.

Our law firm is very familar with the probate process. We will explain what needs to be done to you, from the filing of the Petition for Probate to obtaining the order approving the distribution of the assets of the deceased. Many law firms charge a percentage of the amount of the estate as their fee. We do not. We charge only what is fair for the work done.   We would be pleased to assist you.