Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Death Before Signing a Will

Question: My sister died as a Maryland resident before she signed her Will. My brother was going to be named executor, so he has visited the attorney who drew up the Will without conferring with us. They have sent my other brother and I a renunciation form instructing us to sign, notarize and return. There is no other explanation included. Can a lawyer ‘legally’ ask us to complete this form ? Answer: Yes, a lawyer can legally ask for completion of the form. Because your mother’s Will was not signed (and assuming there was no other Will in effect) the probate will proceed under the laws of intestacy in Maryland. If your sister was not married, had no children and your parents are both deceased, it sounds like the three siblings have an equal right to act as personal representatives of the estate. From my standpoint, I generally do not recommend having more than one personal representative of the estate assuming the siblings get along and one of you has the time and inclination to administer the estate.  This might be the reason the attorney suggested the resignations of two siblings. I would suggest going back to that attorney and finding out his rationale.  If something cannot be worked out, then don’t sign the form; the upshot being that you all will likely have to work together.


Steve Shane Head Shot for webSteve Shane 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 Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn. WASHINGTON | BALTIMORE | FREDERICK | PHILADELPHIA | WILMINGTON | VIRGINIA | NEW YORK