They are a public office established under the Constitution of the State of Maryland. The Constitution provides for a Register from each county and the City of Baltimore. Each Register is elected by qualified voters for a four-year term of office at the time of the gubernatorial election. The Register of Wills is responsible for appointing personal representatives to administer decedents’ estates and for overseeing the proper and timely administration of these proceedings. They also perform the following duties: assist and advise the public in the preparation of all required forms; maintain and preserve the permanent record of all proceedings; serve as the Clerk to the Orphans’ Court; track estates and refer delinquent matters to the Court; determine and collect inheritance taxes and probate fees/court costs; audit accounts of personal representatives and guardians; mail various notices and court orders to interested persons; and, verify compliance with court orders. As a service they also provide safekeeping for wills of living persons.
What is Probate?
The literal interpretation means to prove, as in proving one’s will. It can be done administratively in the Register of Wills Office or judicially by the Orphans’ Court when necessary. It is the marshalling of assets, the payment of all creditors and the transference of all property in the decedent’s name to the beneficiaries either named in the will or who would inherit under the laws of intestacy (dying without a will).
When does an Estate have to be Opened?
An estate must be opened if the decedent died owning property of any kind in his/her name alone, or as a tenant in common.
What do you need to Open an Estate in Maryland?
The following is a partial list of items you will be required to furnish to open an estate in Maryland:
- Decedent’s Last Will and Testament
- Death Certificate
- Funeral Contract/Bill
- Approximate value of assets in the decedent’s name alone
- Title to decedent’s automobiles and/or other motor vehicles
- Names and addresses of persons interested in the estate
- Regular Estate Forms – forms available on the web site – CLICK HERE
- Small Estate Forms – forms available on the web site – CLICK HERE
- Any applicable filing fee
- In order to determine which forms and requirements apply to your situation, it is preferred that you speak to a probate deputy prior to arrival.
- For more information, please call the New Proceedings Division in the county of residence of the decedent. Click Here For A Directory
- So that we can provide faster service, it is recommended that you make an appointment to open an estate.
Regular Estate – property of the decedent subject to administration in Maryland is established to have a value in excess of $50,000 (in excess of $100,000 if spouse is sole heir). For persons dying prior to October 1, 2012, a Regular Estate consists of assets with a gross value in excess of $30,000 (or $50,000 if the sole heir or legatee is the surviving spouse).
Small Estate – property of the decedent subject to administration
How do I get a Letter of Administration?
Letters of administration are issued upon opening an estate to the appointed personal representative and/or the attorney representing the estate.
Where do I get a Death Certificate?
The office of Vital Statistics issues death certificates to surviving relatives and authorized representatives of the deceased. To Obtain a Death Certificate in Maryland click here.
Usefull Estate Links: