Maryland has always had laws in place to dictate what happens to someone’s estate when they die without a Last Will and Testament. In the last year one of those laws has changed slightly, specifically Senate Bill 317 was enacted on October 1, 2019. https://legiscan.com/MD/bill/SB317/2019
The prior law provided that when there is no Last Will and Testament, and if there are no surviving children, but a spouse and the decedent’s parent(s) survive the decedent, then the surviving spouse would receive $40,000 plus one-half of the residuary estate, if the spouse and decedent were married for less than 10 (ten) years. The parent(s) of the decedent would receive the other one-half of the residuary estate. The residuary estate is the remaining balance of the probate assets available for distribution after specific bequests, claims, and expenses of the estate have been satisfied.
The new law reduces the number of years of marriage from ten (10) to five (5) in order for the surviving spouse to receive $40,000 plus one-half of the residuary estate, if at least one parent survives the decedent as well.
Additionally, the new law states that, if the spouse and the decedent were married for at least five (5) years, then the spouse inherits the decedent’s entire estate if there are no surviving children.
These changes to the law are significant because it reduces the number of years a spouse and decedent are required to be married in order for the surviving spouse to inherit the deceased spouse’s entire estate.
If you don’t have a Last Will and Testament, and you don’t want your assets to be governed by the laws of intestacy, then you should consider getting your estate plan in order, or you may have an estate plan that you wish to revisit and update. The attorneys of Thomas & Libowitz, P.A. are here to assist with all your estate planning needs.