Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Do I Have To Report Property In Another State on the MD Probate Petition?

  Question:  My father died a couple years ago. I believe he had a Will but I have been unable to locate it. My father lived in Maryland at the time of his death.  I also reside in Maryland.  After a long time searching for this Will, I am opening a court proceeding to become executor of his estate.  My father owned land in another state and a home in another state, to which I am on title as a joint tenant of the home. Since 2010, I have been the only one paying the mortgage and related costs (repairs) for this home. Do I have to report the property in another state on the MD probate petition? Answer:  It sounds like you are not able to locate the Will.  If you can prove to the court’s satisfaction that no Will exists (no copies can be found, etc.), then you will likely need to open an ‘intestate’ estate and request the court to appoint you as Personal Representative of your father’s estate (assuming you have the highest priority to serve because there is no surviving spouse and no other adult children). If you held title to the home as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, there would be no estate and the property would be yours automatically by operation of law. With respect to out of state land, once you are appointed here, you will list the assets as part of your father’s estate, including all assets your father owned or had an interest in.  However, the Maryland court cannot transfer title to the out of state real property and so you will need to open up an ancillary estate proceeding to deal with that interest.  You will have to qualify as a foreign Personal Representative (or executor) which will likely require that you have a local person appointed to receive service of process, notices, etc. on your behalf. If you have been paying the expenses of maintaining the out of state property since his death, you may be entitled to contribution from the estate for some of the expenses incurred with maintaining the property. Comment:  It is important and easy (in Maryland) to pull a copy of the Deeds to confirm ownership of the property.  You can do this online for free. Estate PlanningAs always, if you have questions or would like to know more please contact Steven E. Shane at: sshane@offitkurman.com | 301.575.0313. Steve provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates. You can also connect with Offit Kurman via FacebookTwitterGoogle+YouTube, and LinkedIn.