Probate is the judicial process used to transfer ownership of property of the "decedent" — that is, someone who has died.
There are four ways property transfers at death:
Residents of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia have very simplified probate procedures available to them, particularly in D.C. where probate is “unsupervised” in most cases.
If the decedent has a Last Will and Testament then his or her probate is considered a “testate estate.” Testate estates follow probate procedures based on state law, which you can learn about through these official publications:
If the decedent does not have a Last Will and Testament, then his or her estate is probated in accordance with state “laws of intestacy,” which dictate how the intestate estate assets are to be distributed. I have provided summaries of these often complex laws below.
Probate disputes most often arise when someone challenges or "contests" a will. Learn more about my extensive probate dispute practice.
I and my probate team work together to assist families and personal representatives with all aspects of the probate process in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. We welcome you to contact us with your questions and to learn how we may be of service to you.