Probate and Estate Administration

Annapolis Probate and Estate Administration Lawyer

The word “probate” often carries a bad connotation, frequently because its meaning is misunderstood. Probate is simply the process of legally recognizing your will as the controlling authority in distributing your assets at death. Probate generally takes from six months to a year to complete. This is the “period of administration.” It involves inventorying your assets, paying any bills, collecting any receipts, paying any tax and distributing your estate. And it is important to recognize what is “probate property” — that which is controlled by the terms of your will — and “non-probate property,” which is not impacted by your will at all. Your will has no effect on the passage of assets, such as jointly owned property or insurance proceeds. They go automatically to the joint owner or to the beneficiary you have designated. Many people do not make this distinction. When I point this out, the reaction is often one of shock and relief at being able to cure the problem before it is too late.

Contact me at (410) 573-2992 ▪ E-mail My Office.

I have been an estate administration and probate lawyer in Maryland for more than 35 years, and I have been through the process many, many times. I have a pretty good handle on what is important, what is to be avoided and where the danger lies.

Resolve Contentious Estates Without Costly Court Battles

While I do not often handle estate courtroom litigation, I have much experience with contentious estates, and have used that experience to help people avoid potentially nasty situations. In matters concerning life, death and money, longstanding family differences can come to a boil. Family members who have managed to keep animosity in check during their parents' lifetimes frequently find it difficult to do so when they are gone and the 'who-gets-what' decisions are to be made.

In these situations, my goal as your lawyer is to get people talking and to help them understand the inevitable financial and emotional costs of fighting with each other. In most cases, I can help them successfully overcome their differences and get on with their lives. Probate offers these and additional benefits:

  • Court oversight of the estate activities
  • Comprehensive accounting of estate assets and property
  • The advantage of having someone – the Personal Representative – in place and able to make legally binding decisions

Attorneys’ fees and commissions do not take a huge portion of the estate. In fact, they are controlled by statute; and the ultimate amounts are determined by the Orphans' Court, the probate court in Maryland. The maximum commissions allowed by law in Maryland are determined by reference to the size of the probate estate. The schedule is: nine percent on the first $20,000 of the estate and 3.6 percent on the remainder. Total compensation — commissions and attorneys' fees — is, in the absence of unusual circumstances, limited to that maximum commission cap. Please see the fee schedule for my fees.

You can reach me at (410) 573-2992 ▪ E-mail Anytime