Serving Maryland, Virginia & Washington, D.C                                               Call (240) 778-1911

Probate Lawyer

The Law Offices of Kenneth Braunstein represents outstanding legal services to our clients in probate and estates.  Upon death, if one possesses an ownership interest in any type of asset, that individual has an "estate".  Whether that "estate" needs to be "probated" depends on the nature of the ownership in the asset.  The purpose of a will is to gift one's assets, not otherwise gifted, to beneficiaries upon one's death.  There are a number of ways, however, to gift one's assets to beneficiaries.  A popular method is to title the asset or property in joint names with the right of survivorship (tenancy by the entireties for married persons).  If titled in such a manner, the property goes by law to the surviving joint tenant.  One's will would not control the disposition of this property.  Another method is by contract--life insurance policies and pension plans name beneficiaries who receive the proceeds upon one's death.  Another method is to establish a "pay on death" or "transfer on death" account in which one names a beneficiary for the account by contract with the institution which holds the account.

Even if one titles all assets jointly or names beneficiaries on one's accounts, upon death, that person still has an "estate".  However, the estate (often referred to as the "tax estate"), may not need to be "probated", unless taxes are owed.  An estate only needs to be "probated"--the process by which a will is administered and property passes to beneficiaries pursuant to the terms of the will, if one owns property which passes to one's probate estate.  Such property is normally owned only by the decedent at the time of death. 

Wills are probated through the office of the Register of Wills of the local court.  In Maryland and Virginia, it is the Circuit Court of the county of residency of the decedent.  In the District of Columbia, it is the Superior Court.  Upon death, if a person has a will, it should be filed with the Register of Wills office.  If the person has an estate that needs to be probated, the process involves filing the will and petitioning the Register of Wills to appoint the person named as the "personal representative" (Maryland and DC) or "executor" (Virginia) to become the legal representative of the estate.  Generally speaking, the process involves marshalling the decedent's assets, paying debts that are owed, paying expenses of administration, and eventually, distributing the net assets to the beneficiaries pursuant to instructions set forth in the decedent's will.

While the assistance of an attorney is not required to probate a will, terminology and procedures can be confusing and there are deadlines that must be met.  If you have a question about Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Estate and Trust Planning, please call The Law Offices of Kenneth Braunstein at (240) 778-1911 or email.

Fair and Effective Representation

  Rockville Maryland Office
  200-A Monroe Street
  Suite 100
  Rockville, Maryland 20850
  Phone: (240) 778-1911
  Fax: (240) 842-1710
  Email: ken@braunsteinlegal.com

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  Maryland Probate and Estates Lawyer, Law Offices of Kenneth Braunstein
  Rockville, Maryland Wills, Trust & Probate Lawyer
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The Probate and Estates Lawyer at Law Offices of Kenneth Braunstein serves all of Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland including Montgomery County, Howard County, Baltimore County, Prince Georges County, Rockville, Greenbelt, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Washington, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Baltimore, Silver Spring, College Park, Columbia, Montgomery Village, Kensington, Sandy Spring, Bowie, Burtonsville, Potomac and College Park — and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.