2017 Legislative Updates to Probate Administration

Simpson Law, PA.

Thanks for the fast turnaround; our very nice trip to Russia was made better knowing all this was taken care of with your professional expertise…we will keep you in mind in the future…and when we know someone else is looking for estate planning help.

--Steve, Silver Spring, Maryland

Thanks so much for everything…I gave your business card to 3 co-workers… I gave you the highest recommendation!

--Elizabeth, Fairfax, Virginia

Thanks again for your help and patience while we dragged our feet.

--Debbie,Potomac, Maryland

Getting a will written, designating a power of attorney - these are all tasks that I knew must be done - but I had been putting them on the back burner. Suzanne made the process simple, quick and painless. Everything was done professionally and in a timely manner. It brings me peace of mind to know that all this is taken care of!

--Nancy, President and Founder, Moms, Inc.

Thanks again for being so thorough…stay in touch.

--Donna, Reston, Virginia

I really appreciated all you did to make this so simple and speedy. You have done a great job incorporating all our various issues. I hope to have opportunities to send other clients your way.

--Caitlin, Laurel, Maryland

Suzanne handled the preparation and filing of all the estate documents for me, my husband, and our daughter. This included our wills, general powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, and others. Her explanations were always clear and thorough. Suzanne also found a possible problem in the wording on the deed to our house--- and recommended a simple solution. We are so happy to now have everything in good order. Working with Suzanne was a personal and professional pleasure!


Thanks for letting us bring the children!

--Jennifer, Boyds, Maryland

Thanks for making it so easy and coming to our house both times!

--Don, Olney, Maryland

Suzanne is honest and knowledgeable about estate law. She will guide you to what best fits your needs and your financial situation. She is also very family oriented and that means a lot to me.

-- Linda

Thanks a lot for your help!

--Jan, Fairfax, Virginia

Thanks for everything!

--Cindy, Olney, Maryland

I am a lawyer as well, but my family went to Suzanne several years ago to prepare our wills and related estate documents, and we were extremely pleased with her services. From my professional perspective, she is very intelligent and stays up-to-date on the current laws, and on a more personal note, she is a very warm and caring person.


I’m telling my friends about you!

--Suzanne, Olney, Maryland

Thanks for making it easy!

--Paula, Rockville, Maryland

We worked with Suzanne to develop an advanced directive and will. It was a pleasure working with her -- she was helpful, very well-informed, thoughtful, and understanding of our needs. She was able to lead us through the process with clear instructions and had obviously done her homework before we arrived so that the process was efficient, with minimal back and forth. She has developed a very specific approach to writing advanced directives that reduces ambiguity and provides tremendous reassurance that our wishes will be fulfilled. She dispelled some misconceptions we had about wills and trusts in a respectful, courteous and patient manner, without ever making us feel awkward or uncomfortable. We absolutely trust her judgment and her recommendations which are provided with a commendable balance of professionalism and warmth.


I've been a client of Suzanne's for almost a decade and, with flexibility and compassion, she has worked with me to adapt my plan to meet my expectations. I trust her advice and highly recommend her services.


I had a unique opportunity to observe Suzanne's interactions with a diverse group of colleagues over a year of her participation in Leadership Montgomery and based on that I choose her to prepare my estate plan and to advise me about the process. She is a good listener who is well-respected by her peers for her thoughtful insights and assessments. I decided to retain her to prepare my own estate plan and felt she handled my case with competence and integrity, making the process very comfortable and easy for me.


Suzanne prepared our wills and other estate documents after our child was born. She helped us think through the consequences of the decisions we made, including making sure we had contacted our choices for guardians. We really appreciated her flat-fee based billing too. We knew exactly how much to budget for her service. As a great bonus, with her quarterly newsletter, we get regular updates on relevant legal issues. We have recommended Suzanne many times in the past and will continue to do so. She's a great go-to person.


Suzanne Simpson is the best lawyer I have ever met. She helped me in a most difficult probate case made extremely complex by incompetence of involved parties. She handled the case with efficiency, integrity, know-how and compassion making the best out of a very complicated situation. Due to her knowledge and efficiency my case was resolved in a positive manner. I have not enough words in my vocabulary to express my trust and respect for her ability to successfully finalize a case which other lawyers had deemed to difficult to handle. Kudos for Suzanne Simpson, Esq.!!


Ms. Simpson was our attorney helping us form a will and all the related documents that are important when you have a child -- and even when you don't. What can I say? She has it in all areas. First and foremost, she is an honest person and I always feel she is focused on giving us the best advice. She is highly knowledgeable and continues to go to seminars and keep up with the latest changes in the law -- of which there are many! Her service is impeccable: prompt, calling back ASAP, polite. And in all the while I have known her, she has never made any reference to any client. So I know my own info will be kept private. And her compassion is true, something you need and want when dealing with life and death issues.


Suzanne was easy to work with and very knowledgeable. She explained advantages and disadvantages of optional language and was very helpful in developing our wills, health directives and powers of attorney.

--Wills client

My husband and I were referred by our financial advisor to Simpson Law and from the first phone call to Suzanne Simpson we were handled in a professional manner-she clearly explained all of our options, the laws involved, we made our decisions and within the time frame that we requested. High Marks---we plan on recommending Simpson Law to all of our business partners, family and friends as well.

--Mary Joe

She does what it takes to get the job done. Suzanne is caring and compassionate which is helpful during the estate planning process which can be very emotional in some cases. She is a pleasure to work with and her fees are very reasonable, unlike many other attorneys.


Read more testimonials

The Maryland General Assembly passed two bills this year that have significant effects on probate administration. Here is a breakdown of the bills and how they could affect you.

SB0073: Share of Intestate Estate

SB0073 increases the share of an intestate estate inherited by a surviving spouse from the first $15,000 to the first $40,000 plus half of the residual estate. When someone dies without a valid will, their estate becomes "intestate". There are two scenarios in effect here. Scenario One: A decedent has no valid will but leaves a spouse with no children who are still minors. Scenario Two: A decedent has no valid will and has a spouse with no surviving children, but does have a surviving parent(s). This bills increases the distribution to the spouse from $15,000 to $40,000 from the estate before said estate is distributed to the spouse and adult children OR the surviving spouse and parent(s) of the decedent, which is divided evenly between the two parties.

If there's a spouse and a minor child surviving the decedent, the share given to the spouse is equal to half. If there are no children or parents who survive the decedent, then the spouse receives the entire estate. The bill goes into effect on October 1, 2017.

How Does This Bill Affect You?

This would only affect those have do not have a will at all or do not have a legal will. It is wiser to create a will with an estate attorney than to have no will at all. However, if someone doesn't have a will, then the share their spouse would receive prior to the distribution of the estate is increased. This means the spouse receives more of the estate than other potential beneficiaries.

SB0276/HB1104: Evidence of Domestic Partnership

Under the current law, an affidavit is required in order to prove that a beneficiary is a domestic partner of the deceased. Under HB1104 (SB0276 was vetoed as duplicative), the list of the types of documents which may be submitted to show proof of partnership is dramatically expanded. These documents are used to qualify for an inheritance tax exemption on property held jointly and which passes from the decedent to the domestic partner.

Now the documents that may be provided are taken from section 6-101(B)(2) of the Health code and include: a mortgage, lease, or loan document which is held jointly; life insurance policy showing the domestic partner as the primary beneficiary; the decedent's will showing the partner as the primary beneficiary; durable power of attorney granted by one or the other individual; joint ownership of a motor vehicle; joint checking account, investments, or credit account; joint renter's or homeownership policy; coverage on a health insurance policy; joint child care, such as guardianship or school documents; or finally, a relationship or cohabitation contract. Two of these documents must be provided in lieu of an affidavit in order to receive the exemption on the inheritance tax.

This bill went into effect on July 1, 2017.

How Does This Bill Affect You?

The new legislation would make it easier for domestic partners to prove their partnership status legally in order to receive the tax exemption. It can be expensive and time-consuming to compose, swear to, and notarize an affidavit, whereas providing two documents which prove a partnership is more cost-effective and saves time for all involved. Most people are able to provide two or more of the documents listed with little difficulty, but an affidavit is a special document that must be obtained through legal channels, making them somewhat prohibitive.