How to avoid probate in Maryland

Probate court involves distribution of a decedent’s assets whether they died with or without a will. It can be protracted, increasingly expensive as the process moves along, and certainly perplexing. There are alternatives to probating an estate in Maryland. These are some of the options.

Living trust

A revocable living trust is recognized as a way of avoiding probate in Maryland. Pursuant to a last will and testament, a revocable living trust is created. A declaration in the will requires that the property in the trust at the time of the maker’s death be distributed pursuant to the terms of the trust. During their lifetime the maker of the trust is the trustee. Upon their death, their designated successor trustee distributes the estate without the necessity of probate. It’s extremely important that all of the maker’s real and personal property be titled to the trust. Anything not titled to the trust can be subject to probate. Revocable living trusts can assure privacy in the distribution of an estate. Probate documents are open to inspection by the public.

Joint tenancies

Another way of avoiding probate in Maryland is by holding property in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. Both real estate and certain types of personal property can be held this way. When a co-owner of that property dies, their ownership share passes to the surviving joint tenant without the necessity of probate. Joint tenancies are most often seen in land ownership, bank and investment accounts.

Pay on death

Even people with very large sums of money can avoid probate with pay on death instructions. The account owner will instruct their bank in writing to pay the balance of their account to a designated beneficiary upon the owner’s death. The account owner retains all control over the account. The beneficiary has no rights in the account until such time as the owner dies. Should the owner change their mind, they can easily change beneficiaries so long as they are legally competent to do so.

There are other alternatives to avoiding probate in Maryland. If avoiding probate is your intention, don’t try to draft any deeds or effect any transfers until you talk with our office. Just make an appointment, and we can set a mutually convenient time to discuss your concerns. There are ways of avoiding probate. Preparations must be made correctly though. Call us, and we’ll be pleased to meet with you.