Shady Side, MD asked in Probate for Maryland

Q: How long should it take to be appointed personal representative in Maryland?

My wife applied to be the personal representative of my MILs estate on April 21, 2023. As of June 5th, there is no response from the court. The register of wills did not have the latest will and we don't have an original, but we had a copy. My wife is listed as the primary representative and only heir. This seem exceptionally long for her 1) to be the sole heir, and 2) just to be simply be appointed to deal with the estate regardless of any heirs.

Related Topics:
2 Lawyer Answers

A: Ordinarily, you are required to make a court appearance and produce the original will to be appointed as the personal representative of a decedent's estate. The fact that you don't have the original, but do have a copy, tells me that you may be trying to do something without an attorney that you don't know how to do.

You should contact a Maryland probate lawyer in or near the county where the decedent was living at the time of her death. It may be possible in Maryland to probate a fully executed copy of a will if the original has been lost, but that is not the typical case. That fact alone make this more than a DIY project.

Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Wow. You don't have the latest version of the will, and what you do have is only a copy. No, that's not good enough. You're heading for judicial probate on this one. That's why it's taking so long. There has to be a proceeding regarding what happened to the most recent current original will. You have to prove first to the satisfaction of the court what happened to the original and why it cannot be obtained and filed, and prove that the copy you filed is in fact a genuine copy of the lost/destroyed original current still-unrevoked will. What I tell all clients who come to me with a copy to file, is go back and turn over every piece of paper, rummage every file folder, pile of old papers, desk drawer and box, and locate the original. Figure out who the lawyer was who drafted the will--as many times, the lawyer keeps the original and expects the client's family to return to them to administer the estate. Check the local Register of Wills to see if the original was filed there by the decedent (or if the will was signed years ago when the decedent lived in another jurisdiction, go to the the Register of Wills in that jurisdiction and check). Otherwise, the copy of whatever you have may not be admitted to probate, and your wife will need to be appointed Personal Representative of the intestate estate of your MIL after going through the process for that in the absence of the original will.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.