Law Office of Rick Todd Blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Columbia Maryland Probate and What Goes into an Estate Account

Probate is a judicial action that the vast majority of society has to go through when they die, particularly if they have inheritable assets.  Probate doesn’t occur everywhere; it takes place in the county seat (capital) of the county where the deceased person resided and had assets.

In Maryland, probate occurs at the Register of Wills; the Register of Wills is commonly found at the circuit (state not federal) court house. In Howard County, that is in Ellicott City, Prince George’s County’s is in Upper Marlboro, Montgomery County’s is in Rockville, etc. Register of Wills offices can be tiny operations with less than a dozen employees to enormous operations with hundreds of employees as is found in both Montgomery and Baltimore Counties.

Just because you live in a big city doesn’t mean that you will get your own Register of Wills. Columbia, Maryland is a good example. Families with deceased loved ones living there need to go to Ellicott City. It’s an historical legacy of when the county was founded!

So, what happens during probate? What goes into an estate account? This probably deserves its own blog post, but I’ll put it here anyway. The only pieces that go into an estate account are things that were in the name of the decedent and the decedent alone. That means things like a house, a bank account with no named death beneficiary, cash that has been sitting around, and other valuables. Those are the most common examples, but there are more.

Probate is really a catch-all. It’s meant to organize those assets a person left behind that were not specifically given to someone else. It’s very possible for someone’s entire estate to be jointly-owned and probate-avoided. Far more common is for assets to have to go through the probate process before heirs can claim them.


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The Law Offices of Rick Todd has offices located in Columbia, Chevy Chase, Fairfax, Virginia, and Maryland and serves clients throughout Clarksville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Fulton, Rockville, Bethesda, Potomac, Laurel, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Washington D.C.

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