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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Probate in Howard County, Maryland (Part One)

What is probate? Probate is the system in place in most of the United States that administers the wills of estates. When you die, your estate passes through probate and money owed to creditors (and attorneys) is paid out, followed by property that is due to beneficiaries (heirs).

In Howard County, probate is a straightforward process. The Register of Wills in the county is located in the Circuit Courthouse in Ellicott City (not Columbia!), the county seat. The Register of Wills is the office that oversees administration and helps to guide personal representatives (executors) through the process toward its eventual conclusion and closure.

Probate in the county is guided by the laws of the State of Maryland which are broadly similar to most of the counties in the United States. Within Maryland, there are differences in rules between counties, but for the most part the rules remain the same.

Depending on the value of the estate, it is administered as a “small estate” or a “regular estate.” If the will is “uncontested,” or everyone agrees with what it says, then the Register of Wills oversees the administration of the will. At that point it is an administrative effort and things proceed normally.

While I stated earlier that probate proceeds quickly, this is only the case if the will is uncontested. At this point the process can become drawn out, complex, and expensive. If the will is contested, then the Orphans’ Court oversees the will’s administration; the Orphans’ Court is the name of the court whose sole purpose is dealing with contested wills and other estate issues.

The Register of Wills can offer you varying levels of aid depending on the size of the county in question. A smaller county, such as Howard County, often has the time and resources to respond to inquiries about estates far faster than larger counties that may have a backlog of requests. 


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The Law Offices of Rick Todd is located in Columbia, MD and Chevy Chase, MD (Friendship Heights) serve clients throughout Clarksville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Fulton, Rockville, Bethesda, Potomac, Laurel, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Washington D.C.



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