Three New Laws Impacting Maryland Estates in 2017

There were a variety of new laws or amendments to existing laws which will take effect this year that will have an impact on Maryland estate administration. This blog highlights 3 of the changes that estate Personal Representatives, attorneys and all residents of Maryland should be aware of:

  • Vehicle Laws- Transfer on Death. Recent legislation (specifically House Bill 492) changes existing Maryland law to allow a vehicle owner to specify one beneficiary to receive his or her automobile upon the death of the vehicle owner. Before this law was passed, there was a prohibition on direct transfers of vehicles upon death and the decedent’s car would generally have to be included as an asset in the probate of his or her estate.

  • Share of Intestate Estate for Surviving Spouse. This bill (Senate Bill 73/House Bill 735) increases the intestate share of the surviving spouse under Maryland Code Estates & Trusts Article §3-102 from the first $15,000 plus one-half of the remainder, to the first $40,000 plus one half of the remainder, if there is no surviving minor child. What this means is that if you are married with adult children and you die without a Last Will and Testament in Maryland, your spouse will automatically receive the first $40,000 from your estate, plus one-half of the remaining assets. Your adult children would share the remaining one-half of your estate.

  • Health Care Decisions Act- Advance Directives- Disqualifies Persons. This bill (Senate Bill 562/House Bill 498) precludes certain individuals from serving as health care agent or surrogate health care decision maker; namely, anyone whom the principal has filed a restraining order against, entered into a separation agreement with or is the subject of an application for divorce from the principal. This is a particularly important law to consider if you are divorced, are in the midst of a divorce or if you are thinking about divorce. If you believe this situation might apply to you, please contact me or any of the other knowledgeable family law attorneys at Andalman & Flynn.

Unless vetoed by the Governor, these bills will become law and will take effect on October 1, 2017.

Kate McDonough, Esquire