If you do not create your own Estate Plan, your home state has a plan for you.
All states have a system of dividing your estate up should you die without a Will and/or Trust Instrument. This is called dying “intestate”. However, for most people, the results are often not what they desire. For example, the Maryland intestate plan can lead to individuals with whom you have distant or even hostile relations receiving a portion of your estate.
Below are some common examples of Maryland’s statutory intestate formula.
For married individuals, rather than your estate going entirely to support your spouse, it is split between your spouse and your surviving children. This is true regardless of the child’s age when their parent died or the financial needs of the surviving spouse. If the child is under the age of eighteen, their inheritance will have to be supervised by a court appointed guardian. While it may seem counterintuitive, under Maryland law a parent is not automatically authorized to handle their child’s inheritance. A parent still needs to be appointed by a judge as their guardian. Further, any withdraws from the minor’s account typically must be approved by a Court. Lastly, once the child turns eighteen, the funds pass directly to them. As most eighteen year olds are not as fiscally responsible as an adult, this too can be far from what the deceased wanted for their child.
For married individuals without children, one-half of their assets pass to their spouse and the other half passes to the deceased individual’s parents. For many couples, this arrangement may also not be ideal.
The Maryland intestacy statute has countless other permutations which dictate who will inherit your estate based on who survives you and their relation to you. It is important for an individual to be familiar with the Maryland statutory approach to see if it represents their wishes for their estate.