Dying Without a Will in Maryland

Laws of Intestacy Succession in Maryland

Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images News/Getty Images

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

When a Maryland resident dies without having made a ​Last Will and Testament, the intestacy succession laws found in the Estates & Trusts Chapter of the Maryland Code will dictate who inherits the deceased person's probate estate.

Below is a summary of the Maryland intestacy succession laws in various situations.

Deceased Person is Survived by a Spouse and/or Descendants and/or Parents

Here is what will happen under the Maryland intestacy laws if the deceased person is survived by a spouse and/or descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) and/or parents:

  • Survived by a spouse and one or more minor children - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit one-half (1/2) of the probate estate and the deceased person's children will inherit the remaining one-half (1/2) of the probate estate, per stirpes.
  • Survived by a spouse and one or more children, none of whom are minors - In this case the surviving spouse will inherit the first $15,000 of the probate estate and the balance will be distributed one-half (1/2) to the surviving spouse and one-half (1/2) to the deceased person's children, per stirpes.
  • Survived by a spouse and no descendants or parents - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased spouse's entire probate estate.
  • Survived by a spouse and parent or parents and no descendants - In this case the surviving spouse will inherit the first $15,000 of the probate estate and the balance will be distributed one-half (1/2) to the surviving spouse and one-fourth (1/4) to each parent if both are living or one-half (1/2) to the only surviving parent.
  • Survived by descendants and no spouse - In this case, the deceased person's descendants will inherit the entire probate estate, per stirpes.
  • Survived by a parent or parents and no spouse or descendants - In this case, the deceased person's parents will inherit the probate estate in equal shares if both are living or the entire probate estate will go to the only surviving parent.

Deceased Person is Not Survived by a Spouse, Descendants, or Parents

Here is what will happen under the Maryland intestacy laws if the deceased person is not survived by a spouse, any descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) or his or her parents:

  • Survived by brothers and/or sisters or descendants of deceased brothers and/or sisters - In this case the deceased person's brothers and/or sisters and the descendants of deceased brothers and/or sisters (nieces and nephews) will inherit the entire of the probate estate, per stirpes.
  • Not survived by brothers, sisters, or descendants of brothers or sisters - In this case the probate estate will be divided so that one-half (1/2) will go to the deceased person's paternal family and the other half (1/2) will go to the deceased person's maternal family; provided that if there are no survivors on the paternal side of the family or no survivors on the maternal side of the family, then the entire probate estate will go to the other side of the deceased person's family.
  • Not survived by any family members - In the unlikely circumstance that the deceased person is not survived by any family members as described above, then the entire probate estate will escheat to the State of Maryland.

What Will You Inherit From a Maryland Intestate Estate?

So exactly what will you inherit if your relative dies without leaving a Last Will and Testament and the relative was a resident of Maryland or owned real estate located in Maryland? Even if you determine based on the information presented above that you are entitled to an intestate share of your relative's estate, you may very well not inherit anything. Why? Because your relative may have left all non-probate property or the debts your relative owed at the time of death may exceed the value of the probate estate which will make the estate insolvent.

If you are not sure of your legal rights as an intestate heir in Maryland, then consult with a Maryland probate attorney to be sure.