Bethesda, Maryland Probate Attorney

Serving Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

What is Probate?

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:

  1. Joint ownership (e.g., real estate and bank and investment accounts)
  2. Beneficiary designation form (e.g., retirement accounts and life insurance)
  3. Trust (often called a “will substitute” or “living trust”)
  4. Probate (the judicial process for transferring assets that are not fully transferred by options 1, 2 or 3)

What are the Probate Procedures in Maryland and the District of Columbia?

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.

Testate Estates

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:

Intestate Estates: What if Someone Dies Without a Will?

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.

What are Probate Disputes?

Probate disputes most often arise when someone challenges or "contests" a will. Learn more about my extensive probate dispute practice.

Our Services: How a Probate Attorney Can Help

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.

Laws of the District of Columbia If Decedent Dies with No Last Will and Testament or Trust

First, a surviving spouse has rights to certain allowances under D.C. law. These get paid off the top regardless of whether there is a valid Will or not. Read More

Maryland Intestate Succession and Statutory Shares

If the decedent is survived by a spouse and any minor children, the minor children inherit 1/2 (split between the minor children) and the spouse inherits 1/2. Read More