What happens with a person’s property if they die without a last will and testament or other estate planning tool such as a trust is largely determined by state law. The laws vary from state to state.
In Maryland, with a few exceptions, property that would have passed by a will is inherited by the surviving spouse, children, parents, lineal descendants such as grandchildren and great grandchildren, and siblings. The portion inherited is as follows:
If you die and are survived by a spouse and minor children:
If you die and are survived by a spouse and adult children and/or lineal descendants but no minor children:
If you die and are survived by a spouse and parents but no children or descendants:
If you die and are survived by children but no spouse:
If you die and are survived by parent(s) but no spouse or children and/or descendants:
If you die and are survived by siblings but no spouse or parents:
If a person dies but does not have surviving parents, spouse, children, grandchildren or siblings, then other distant relatives will be entitled to inherit the property.
Note: Some property is not affected by whether the deceased has a last will or testament. Such property passes based on a named beneficiary or co-owner. Examples include, life insurance proceeds, 401(k) and other retirement accounts, bank and securities/stock accounts that are held as payable or transfer on death accounts (e.g., the owner named a beneficiary); property owned with someone else as joint tenants or tenants by the entirety).
Intestacy laws that govern what happens with property if a person dies without a last will and testament are intricate and detailed. The above-referenced information is just an overview, the actual laws should be consulted to have a full understanding of what will happen to property upon death without a will or trust.
This information is to provide general information about the law, not to provide legal advice. THIS INFORMATION MAY NOT BE UP TO DATE. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher or any attorney contributor. The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.