Estate planning can be complicated, but it is a necessary process so that an individual’s assets pass to those they wish upon the individual’s death. A foundational document in the estate planning process is a will. A will is a tool that allows an individual to identify beneficiaries and pass on property to them, among other important tasks. Maryland has specific rules for how and who may set up valid wills.
When a person dies without executing a will, though, the question of what should happen with their assets is sometimes answered by state law. The laws of intestacy govern the distribution of a decedent’s assets, sometimes in opposition to what a decedent may have wanted to happen. To avoid having state law dictate the distribution of one’s end of life estate, it is important to work with an estate planning attorney to create and execute a valid will.
Maryland’s laws of intestacy
When an individual dies without a will they are said to have died intestate. If a decedent died intestate while married, their spouse would receive a share of their estate, the value of that share would depend upon the existence of the decedent’s children or even parents and siblings.
Laws of intestacy generally track a decedent’s family tree both up its truck and down its branches. If a decedent has no spouse or kids, their parents and siblings may take the value of the estate. If the decedent died without kids, a spouse, parents, or siblings and their issue, their estate may pass to their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and on.
Why intestacy laws may harm families
The state’s laws of intestacy give structure to what should happen if a person passes without leaving valid instructions on how to manage the disposition of their assets. However, the laws do not take into consideration intrafamily conflicts, decedent preferences, or any of the other nuanced relationship-based factors that may alter how a decedent wants their wealth given out. To avoid the problems and pitfalls of estate dispositions based on intestacy laws, individuals can execute their own wills and associated estate planning documents.