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What happens if a person dies without a will in Maryland?

| May 11, 2021 | estate planning |

Estate plans can include many testamentary documents that provide information and insights on an individual’s wishes if they become incapacitated or die and leave assets behind. One important testamentary device that many Maryland residents choose to execute is a will. A will is a tool that allows a person to name a guardian for their minor children and bequeath property and assets to others if and when the will’s creator dies.

Though many people understand the importance and value of wills and estate plans, not everyone executes them in advance of their own deaths. When a person dies without a will, their estate passes through the laws of intestate succession. This post will briefly discuss these laws in Maryland, but no reader should interpret the contents of this article as legal advice. Estate planning attorneys are valuable advocates for individuals who hope to protect their wealth and avoid unnecessary costs at the times of their death.

Intestate succession in Maryland

One of the most important factors that is considered under Maryland law when it comes to intestate succession is marriage. If a decedent was married prior to their death, their spouse will receive at least half of their full estate. If the decedent had minor children or other issue, those relations may receive portions of their estate and the spouse may receive half. Similarly, if a decedent passes away with a spouse and parents, their parents may receive part of their estate through the laws of intestate succession.

Generally, intestate succession passes the wealth and assets of the decedent’s estate up and down the branches of their family tree. Closely related relations are more likely to inherit than distant relations, but intestate descent succession does not take into account interpersonal conflicts and other differences that may prevent decedents from wanting their family members to inherit from the end-of-life estates.

How to avoid intestate succession

There is a simple way to avoid having one’s end of life estate distributed through the laws of intestate succession. They can proactively choose to create a will and other estate planning devices for a comprehensive end-of-life estate plan. Through an estate plan, an individual can take control of how and to whom their assets and wealth are distributed. When ready, a reader can contact their trusted estate planning attorney to walk them through the steps necessary to draft and execute their personal estate planning documents.