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Intestacy laws come into play when a person passes away without a valid Last Will and Testament. In such cases, your state’s law determines how the assets will be distributed among your heirs. Maryland introduced a new law effective October 1, 2023, that will impact the distribution of assets and the overall probate process. Hughes Legacy Law PLLC wants to help you understand this change and what it may mean for you and your family.

Key Changes:

  1. Spousal Share Adjustment: Under the new law, the surviving spouse is entitled to a more substantial share of the decedent’s estate.
    • If the decedent has adult children who are not children of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse now gets $100,000 plus half of the remaining estate. This is an increase from $40,000 under the prior law.
    • If the decedent’s surviving adult children are also children of the surviving spouse, the spouse now receives the entire estate. Previously, the surviving spouse would receive $40,000 plus half of what remained, and the children would split the remaining half evenly.
    • In the case of no children but with surviving parents, the spouse now inherits the entire estate, whereas in the previous law the duration of the marriage impacted the amount received.
  2. Domestic Partner Rights: With the recent introduction of the Domestic Partnership Registry (managed by Register of Wills), the registered partner has the same rights as a spouse in an intestate estate.
  3. Updates to Default Heirs: Changes in the default heirs’ hierarchy establish stepchildren as the successor heirs to inherit, in the absence of other immediate family. The former law held the descendants of great-grandparents as the successor heirs.
  4. Inclusive Terminology: The new law removes stigmatizing language to describe children as either “legitimate” or “illegitimate”, and also features grandparents as first and second set rather than the previous “maternal” and “paternal” gendered terms.

Maryland’s new intestacy law brings about noteworthy changes that can significantly impact the way estates are handled in the absence of a Will. Laws and statutes continue to change, and they may not reflect an individual’s wishes for how their assets are distributed. Having a Will in place is critical in ensuring that one’s wishes are respected and the estate is distributed according to one’s intentions.

The attorneys and professional staff at Hughes Legacy Law PLLC are ready to assist you in creating your estate plan and protecting your estate in Maryland, D.C., Virginia and Florida.