Q: In Maryland, does estate need to go into probate for a $250,000 house that had deceased mom's name on the deed?
I am administering the estate for my father-in-law and I was named as the executor in his will. PG County granted me special administrative rights so that we could complete the sale of his house. The house went under contract before he passed and sold after he passed -- his will states that his two children should split the proceeds. I did open an estate account about 6 weeks ago. FYI...My mother-in-law's name was also on the deed but she passed before he did. Just wondering if probate is required since there were two names on the deed. PG County placed an ad in the paper that I paid for announcing the estate...that happened 8 weeks ago. I'm still waiting for them to officially grant me as the administrator and it's taking forever. So, my next issue is I am wondering when the probate process starts -- e.g. are we already 2 months into the process as we wait for the courts to grant me official administrator of the estate.
A: Your father-in-law became the sole owner of the property when his wife died (assuming, as is normal, he owned the house as "Tenants by the Entireties" with his wife). When he died, ownership of the house immediately vested in the estate, meaning the only person authorized to close on the sale is the Personal Representative of the estate. The proceeds are paid to his estate, deposited into the estate account, and then distributed to the persons who are to receive his estate, as set forth in his will. Before distributing the proceeds, you will be required to prepare an accounting for the estate, setting forth all assets, expenses, debts and costs, and the proposed amounts to be distributed to the heirs after all expenses of the estate are paid. The probate court will review the accounting and approve it or request additional information following an audit. Distribution only takes place after the accounting is approved.
Steven J. Fromm agrees with this answer
A: In a word, Yes. Probate is required whenever someone dies in Maryland owning property in their name. If not in a trust or with someone else on title to inherit the property, a house and any proceeds from its sale would belong to the probate estate.
The court will grant the personal representative something called "Letters of Administration" which gives authority to manage the estate and sell assets. The fact pattern doesn't explain why a special administrator was appointed instead of a Personal Representative.
An estate with assets worth $250,000 would not qualify as a small estate for streamlined processing. It would either be a "regular estate" or if all the heirs and creditors consented might be "modified administration." In a regular estate, the Personal Representative would need to tell the court when they are ready to distribute to heirs by filing an "Accounting" for the court's approval.
Typically the Personal Representative will wait to disburse to heirs until the time frames for creditor claims end. You're encouraged to seek legal advice, even if you don't desire an attorney to enter an appearance in the estate it may help to sit down and understand the process. This post isn't legal advice or a promise to represent but I hope that it helps.
Steven J. Fromm agrees with this answer
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