The Probate Process in Maryland: What Makes Maryland’s Probate Process Unique?
Welcome to the first in our series of blog posts about the probate process in Maryland, brought to you by the Gormley Law Firm! We are experienced probate lawyers serving clients across Maryland. We’ve helped thousands of people through the probate process in Maryland, and we can help you too.
By the way: we also practice probate law in Washington, DC and have an entire series about the process, so be sure to check that out if you’re in DC.
In this post, we’re talking about the basics of probate in Maryland. You might be surprised to learn that Maryland’s probate process has some unique aspects to it. The legal structure in Maryland has much of its origin in England, and the probate court is called Orphans’ Court.
The court is called Orphans’ Court because it was created to protect the children of deceased male landowners when the father died.
Orphans’ Court was first created in Maryland under the Acts of 1777. They were established in each county and served by a Register of Wills. The Register of Wills is also unique to Maryland.
The Register of Wills is responsible for many things: it handles the appointment of personal representatives for estates and ensures these proceedings are handled properly and timely.
The Register of Wills is also responsible for helping the public complete forms, maintaining and preserving a permanent record of all proceedings, serves as the Clerk to the Orphans’ Court, tracks estates and refers delinquent matters to the Court, determines and collects inheritance taxes and probate fees/court costs, audits accounts of personal representatives and guardians, mails various notices and court orders to interested persons and verifies compliance with court orders.
Also, the Register of Wills provides a service where living persons can keep their wills safe, which means you don’t have to worry about your will being destroyed or lost. There is a Register of Wills in each county in Maryland, except for Hartford and Montgomery Counties, which judges alternate between the two counties.
Judges of the Orphans’ Courts exercise limited jurisdiction. The Court is tasked with handling judicial probate, directing the personal representatives, and issuing orders during the administration of an estate under Estates and Trusts Article § 2-102. Additionally, an interested person in an estate may request that an issue of fact be transferred to the Circuit Court for trial.
In our next post, we’ll share some probate terminology. In the meantime, if you need help with any probate matters, call us today at 1.240.514.2358 or use the Contact Us feature at the bottom of this page.