What to File to Open a Small Estate
This article concerns how to file a small estate. If you perform this calculation and find that the net value requires filing as a regular estate, this article does not apply.
To open a small estate, the personal representative must file several forms at the Register of Wills office where the decedent had his or her permanent home or was “domiciled.” The addresses to these offices, along with other contact information, can be found on the Register of Wills homepage.
The forms for opening a small estate can be found on the Register of Wills website.
1. Petition for Administration
- Small estates: Form 1103
- This form states why the person applying is the right person to act as personal representative. In deciding, Maryland gives first priority to:
- Persons named in the will
- If no one is appointed by will, then surviving spouse
- If no surviving spouse, then surviving children
- If no surviving spouse or children, then parents
- If no surviving spouse, children, or parents, then siblings
- If the person applying to be personal representative does not have first priority to serve as such, he or she must file a “Consent to Appointment of Personal Representative” signed by all the people who have priority over the individual applying.
- For example, the decedent’s father may want to act as representative, but he would first have to get the permission of the decedent’s surviving spouse and children.
2. List of Assets and Debts
- Small estates: Form 1137 or “Schedule B”
3. Notice of Appointment / Notice to Creditors / Notice to Unknown Heirs
- Small estates: Form 1109
- For small estates, the notice is published once in a newspaper of general circulation, such as the “Daily Record”
- There is a fee to publish this notice, which differs by county.
4. Bond of Personal Representative Form
- Small estates: Form 1115
- For estates valued at $10,000 or more (after the expenses and allowances of administering the estate)
- Executed by an insurance company
- Must be filed unless bond of the personal representative is excused by the will or by a written waiver of all interested persons by Form 1117.
5. List of Interested Persons
- Must be filed before a personal representative is officially appointed
- The list includes:
- Relationship to decedent of all “interested persons”
- An interested person is someone who would inherit from the decedent, either by being named in the will or because Maryland law considers them or would consider them an “heir” under state intestacy laws.
- It is important to note that the decedent’s “heirs” are included in the list of “interested persons” regardless of whether or not the decedent actually died with a will.
- The “List of Interested Persons” generally includes the decedent’s spouse and biological or adopted children (but not step-children or foster-children).
- When a decedent dies intestate without a spouse or children (biological or adopted), the “List of Interested Persons” may include parents (but not step-parents), siblings and half siblings (by blood only, and not step-siblings), grandparents, and great-grandparents, and cousins. Stepchildren are generally included only in the rare case when there are no identifiable surviving blood relatives.
- The purpose of the “List of Interested Persons” is to make sure that all of those people know what is going on and have an opportunity to present objections and receive property they are entitled to inherit. However, “interested persons” have the choice to voluntarily give up their right to receive notice and information during the estate administration process if they wish. They can do this by completing the Waiver of Notice Form (Form 1101) and filing it with the Register of Wills.
6. Paid Funeral Bill
7. Copy of Death Certificate - available from Division of Vital Records
8. Copy of vehicle title and National Automobile Dealers Association book value (if there was a vehicle)
9. State Department of Assessments and Taxation printout showing assessed value for any real property.
More information about how to manage a small estate.