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ways to avoid probate

How to Avoid Probate in Maryland

When you think about the future, estate planning probably doesn’t sound like a walk in the park, but it’s a necessity nonetheless. And this is where the topic of probate comes in – it’s a totally gnarly (in a legal jargon kind of way) yet necessary beast we often have to wrestle with when it comes to dealing with estates. So buckle up, my friend. We’re about to take a deep dive into understanding probate in Maryland and, more importantly, how to avoid it.

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone dies. It involves validating and executing their last will and testament (if they had one) or distributing their assets according to the state’s laws of intestacy (when there is no will). The probate court oversees this process to ensure the deceased’s debts are paid, and their remaining property is transferred to the rightful beneficiaries.

The probate process involves several steps:

  • Filing a Petition: The process starts by filing a petition with the probate court, usually by the executor named in the will or an interested party if there is no will.
  • Notifying Heirs and Creditors: All heirs and beneficiaries are notified, as well as any creditors the deceased owed money to.
  • Inventory and Appraisal: An inventory of the deceased’s assets is made, and their value is appraised.
  • Payment of Debts: The debts of the deceased, including taxes and outstanding bills, are paid from the estate.
  • Distribution of Assets: Once debts are settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries.

Why would I want to avoid probate court?

Avoiding probate court can be desirable for several reasons:

  • Cost: The probate process involves court fees, attorney fees, and other administrative costs that can significantly deplete the estate’s value.
  • Privacy: Probate is a public process, and all the details of the deceased’s assets and beneficiaries become part of the public record. This lack of privacy may be undesirable for some families.
  • Time to Settlement: Probate can be a lengthy process, often taking several months to a year or more, which can delay the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

Common ways to avoid probate in Maryland

A Living or Revocable Trust

A Living Trust is a legal entity that holds the assets of the grantor (the person creating the trust) during their lifetime and allows for the seamless transfer of assets to designated beneficiaries upon their death. Since the trust owns the assets, they are not subject to probate.

Joint Ownership of Property

Jointly owned assets, such as joint bank accounts or real estate owned as “joint tenants with rights of survivorship,” automatically pass to the surviving owner(s) upon one owner’s death, bypassing probate.

Establish Payable On Death (POD) Accounts

A Payable On Death designation on bank accounts or retirement accounts allows the account holder to name specific beneficiaries. Upon the account holder’s death, the assets are transferred directly to the named beneficiaries, avoiding probate.

Gift Away Property

Some individuals choose to gift their property to beneficiaries during their lifetime. By doing so, the property is no longer part of the estate, and it won’t go through probate.

Create a Will

Though a will typically goes through probate, having a will in place is essential. It allows you to specify your wishes and appoint an executor to manage your estate during the probate process.

Take Advantage of Small Estate Provisions

In Maryland, there are provisions for small estates, which allows for simplified probate procedures for estates with a lower value. If the estate qualifies as a small estate, the probate process may be quicker and less costly.

how long after probate can a house be sold

Need to Sell a House in Maryland that’s in Probate?

When facing the need to sell a house in probate, one option is to sell to a reputable house buying company like Yes I Pay Cash. Here are some benefits of choosing this route:

  • Speed: House buying companies can offer a fast and straightforward process. They often make cash offers, allowing for a quick sale without the delays of traditional home-selling methods.
  • As-Is Sale: Selling to a house buying company usually means you can sell the property in its current condition. This saves you from the need to invest in costly repairs or renovations.
  • No Fees or Commissions: Working with a house buying company typically means you won’t have to pay real estate agent commissions or other fees associated with traditional real estate sales.
  • Avoiding the Open Market: Selling through traditional channels can take time and effort, including listing the property, holding open houses, and negotiating with potential buyers. Selling to a house buying company bypasses these steps.
  • Certainty: Dealing with probate can already be a stressful process. Selling to a reputable house buying company can provide a sense of certainty, knowing that the sale can proceed smoothly.
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How to Avoid Probate in Maryland - Related Questions

Can I avoid probate without a will?

Yes, some assets can pass directly to beneficiaries without going through probate, even if there is no will. For example, jointly owned assets and payable-on-death accounts can avoid probate.

Is probate necessary for all estates in Maryland?

No, Maryland has provisions for small estates with a lower value, which may qualify for simplified probate procedures.

What are the disadvantages of avoiding probate?

While avoiding probate can have benefits, some strategies, like gifting away property, may have potential tax implications, and living trusts may incur upfront costs.

Can a house buying company help if the property has liens or other issues?

Yes, reputable house buying companies often specialize in handling properties with various issues, including liens or legal complications.

How do I know if selling to a house buying company is the right choice for me?

Consider factors such as your urgency to sell, the property’s condition, and your desire to avoid the traditional real estate selling process. Weigh the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.

how to avoid probate in Maryland - Yes I Pay cash

Bottom Line: How to Avoid Probate in MD

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone’s death to distribute their assets. While probate serves an essential purpose, some individuals may want to avoid it due to its costs, lack of privacy, and time-consuming nature. There are several common ways to avoid probate in Maryland, including creating a living trust, establishing joint ownership of property, and using payable-on-death accounts. Additionally, if you find yourself needing to sell a house in probate, selling to a reputable house buying company like Yes I Pay Cash can offer speed, convenience, and certainty in the process.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. Please consult with professionals for advice specific to your situation.

If you need to sell a house in probate in Maryland, contact Yes I Pay Cash today. We buy houses all throughout Maryland. You can reach us at (443) 200-4882 to get a fair cash offer or fill out the form below.

Helpful Maryland Estate, Probate and Inheritance Resources

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Tariq Thomas

Tariq Thomas

Tariq Thomas, has been a full-time real estate investor since 2002 and has personally flipped hundreds of properties. He is the founder and owner of Yes I Pay Cash - We Buy Houses. Tariq's goal is to help home sellers find the best solution for their real estate needs, whether that's selling their home quickly, getting top dollar, or avoiding the hassle of a traditional home sale.

Additional Resources For Maryland Home Sellers and Home Buyers