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What may happen to my assets if I die without a will in Maryland?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2022 | Estate Planning

Without a will, Maryland’s laws recognize an individual as dying “intestate.” The MDCourts.gov website notes that the probate process may settle your affairs if you have no will. A judge could supervise the distribution of your assets to your closest living relatives.

If you own property jointly with your spouse, however, he or she may take full ownership upon your death. A title or deed with both names, for example, may not require probate. Properties owned only in the deceased’s name, however, generally require the probate process.

Who receives my assets through the court?

Lacking a will, when you die and a surviving spouse or children survive you, an administrator divides your assets under Maryland’s intestacy laws. As described by SmartAsset.com, a surviving spouse receives half of a deceased’s estate. Children receive the other half. Without children, your spouse receives everything.

The property of unmarried individuals who die intestate generally goes to their surviving children. If you have children or adopted them, the court may divide your assets equally among them. Without a spouse or children, those next in line to inherit your property include your parents followed by your siblings.

Which assets may my heirs receive without requiring probate?

Certain assets may transfer directly to your intended heirs without leaving a will. Life insurance policies, for example, do not require probate. The beneficiaries that you name on a policy receive its proceeds when you die.

Money in bank accounts and stocks held in retirement accounts could also transfer directly to your named beneficiaries. You may contact your financial institutions to determine how to add a payable-on-death beneficiary to an account.

Dying intestate may result in assets transferring to a surviving spouse, children or other close relatives. Maryland’s law also requires heirs to have survived an intestate death by a minimum of 30 days before receiving an inheritance.