While many individuals take time to sit down and draft a will at some point during their lives, there is a significant number of people who do not. Many people believe that they’re too young, too healthy or that they don’t have enough assets to warrant drafting one. Death comes to everyone’s doorstep at some point in their lives though. Everyone should have a will.
One of the more common questions that Frederick attorneys get asked after a loved one dies unexpectedly without a will is what happens with their assets once this happens. Many individuals who ask this question tend to be under the impression that these assets automatically get transferred to the state in these cases. That’s not necessarily what happens though.
Maryland intestate succession laws kick in when someone dies without having drafted a will here in this state. This means that any assets that your loved one leaves behind will first be used to pay off any outstanding taxes, debts and probate administration expenses. If there’s anything left over after that, then anything that remains in the estate will be distributed among the decedent’s heirs.
Here in Maryland, state intestacy laws require any property that remains in an estate to first be distributed equally among the decedent’s close relatives such as their kids or spouse. If the deceased individual doesn’t have either one of these, then their assets may be distributed to more distant relatives including their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and so forth.
It’s only if the decedent doesn’t have any living blood relatives that assets may be divided up among nonblood family members such as stepchildren.
Maryland Intestacy Laws only allow for a decedent’s assets to be distributed to the county or city Board of Education where the Maryland resident had lived if there are no identifiable blood or nonblood relatives for their assets to be distributed to.
If you’ve dragged your feet in drafting a will because you don’t feel that you are a stage in your life where it’s warranted to have one in place, then you may want to discuss your situation with an attorney. They can explain how there’s more to the estate planning process than drafting a will. They can go over how every document that you draft allows you to make sure that things are done your way in the end.