What Does it Mean to be Intestate in Maryland?

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

I recently found out about a show by the BBC called "Heir Hunters" and it caught my attention. The premise of the show is that probate firms in England receive cases and have to track down potential heirs to receive the contents of the estate. In this case, the heirs are siblings, cousins, or more distant relations. If there are no heirs, the assets are given to the Treasury.

The estates wound up in that state because the owners never made a legitimate will, or any will at all. Thus it was up to the government, via the probate firms, to decide who would inherit what remained of the estates.

While the law may be somewhat different in the United States from British law and may vary by state, the probate and intestate processes are still alive and well. In fact, I handled a very interesting case a few years ago where I had the privilege of calling long-lost or never-met relatives of a decedent to let them know they were inheriting money from a widowed childless aunt.

In the U.S., the probate process determines the validity of your will and is supervised by the court system.1 If there is no will, the estate is considered intestate. About 55 percent of Americans die without leaving a will or any estate plans2, which means that slightly more than half of all the estates in the United States enter probate or intestacy.

In Maryland, if you die without a Will and have children, your spouse will not inherit all of your estate. Instead it will be split between parent and children, which may cause undue hardship to the surviving spouse. The laws also vary in Virginia and D.C., especially if there are children from the decedent’s prior relationships. If there are no living heirs, including among parents or siblings, then the estate goes to the state. In Maryland, these assets are distributed to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or to the Board of Education of the county in which the decedent lived.3

Creating a valid will or trust is crucial for ensuring your wishes are carried out and properly documented for representatives and heirs. Returning to "Heir Hunters" for a moment, many of the estate owners were those who had lived reclusive lives in their final years, or lived alone, or in some cases, were estranged from family. Often the stories have some kind of happy ending, with distant relatives finding out about family they didn’t know they had, or receiving an unexpected inheritance. However, for all the good things that may happen, these are not reasons to assume everything will be OK if you decide not to create a will or trust. It is still valuable to create a legal estate plan and define who should receive your estate upon your passing, and relieve some of the stress placed upon your loved ones by having these issues already spelled out in a legal, binding document for all to abide by.

Heir Hunters website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007nms5

1 "Wills and Estates." American Bar Association. 2016. http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_issues_for_consumers/probate.html

2 "Estate Planning FAQs." American Bar Association. 2016. http://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/estate_planning_faq.html

3 "Maryland Intestacy Law." The People’s Law Library of Maryland. 2015. https://www.peoples-law.org/maryland-intestacy-law