Inheritance Sharing Law in Maryland

By Wayne Thomas

A valid will ensures that your property passes according to your wishes after your death. In Maryland, if you fail to make a will or the document does not meet the state's legal requirements, your estate will be distributed according to the state's inheritance sharing rules. In such cases, the law places surviving spouses and children first in line to receive the estate, followed by parents, siblings, grandparents and stepchildren. If no heirs can be found, the estate becomes the property of the state.

Will Formalities

Subject to certain conditions for married couples, property will pass in any way specified by a valid will. To be considered valid in Maryland, the document must meet certain state requirements. First, a will may be made only by someone who is at least 18 years old, mentally competent and not under the pressure of another person. The document must then be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses. If there is no will, or a court declares it invalid, the estate will be distributed according to an inflexible set of state rules that may be contrary to the wishes of the deceased.

Surviving Spouse

A surviving spouse may not be disinherited in Maryland, and is entitled to a portion of the net estate. The net estate is the remaining assets of a deceased person after subtracting debts, funeral costs and administration expenses. The surviving spouse is entitled to receive at least half of the net estate if you have no surviving children, or one-third of the net estate if you have children. This is true even if the will specifies a smaller inheritance. If there is no will, the surviving spouse will automatically receive a one-time allowance of $5,000 in addition to half of the net estate if there are minor children. If the children are over 18, or there are no children but surviving parents, the spouse is entitled to a one-half share plus an additional $15,000. If there are no children or parents, the surviving spouse will receive the entire estate.

File a DBA for your business online. Get Started Now


If there is no valid will, the percentage of the estate that each child will receive depends on their age and marital status. As a preliminary matter, each unmarried child under 18 receives an immediate family allowance of $2,500. All minor children are then entitled to share equally in half of the net estate if there is a surviving spouse. If all children are over 18, they will share equally in the remaining one-half of the estate after the surviving spouse has been paid the additional $15,000. If the deceased person was not married at the time of death, the children share equally in the entire estate.


Parents will share in the estate only if there are no surviving children. If a deceased person is unmarried at the time of death and has no children, the parents will be entitled to the entire net estate. If there is a surviving spouse, parents will share equally in half of the net estate after the initial allowance and additional $15,000 have been paid to the spouse.

No Heirs

If a deceased person leaves no surviving spouse, children or parents, the estate will be distributed equally to any surviving siblings or their descendants. If there are no siblings, the estate is distributed to any surviving grandparents or great-grandparents. If there are no surviving blood relatives, the estate will pass to surviving stepchildren. If there are no living legal or blood relatives, the estate becomes the property of the state and its assets are transferred to the county Board of Education.

File a DBA for your business online. Get Started Now
Arizona Intestacy Laws & Distribution


Related articles

Arkansas Inheritance Laws

In Arkansas, a resident can make a valid will if he's at least 18 years old and mentally competent. Arkansas law also requires a will to be written and attested by two witnesses. If an Arkansas resident dies without a will, his property passes to his surviving spouse and other heirs according to state law. These laws are called "laws of intestate succession." When someone dies without a will, he is said to have died "intestate."

Tennessee Estate Laws

Tennessee's estate laws govern how a person's property, collectively known as the estate, is to be divided upon his death. Tennessee law sets forth the requirements for a valid will, but if a person doesn't have a will, the law contains intestacy provisions, setting forth the order in which his heirs may inherit. Tennessee law will protect a deceased's spouse if she is disinherited.

The Definition of an Heir in California Probate

In California, the term "heir" is defined in the state's probate code. Heirs are people who are entitled to inherit a deceased person's property. California, like other states, has laws that explain who may receive an inheritance when a person dies without a last will and testament. These laws are called "laws of intestate succession," and when a person dies without a will, it is referred to as dying "intestate."


Related articles

Sibling Inheritance Law in Georgia

A properly executed will is an important step in ensuring that your property and possessions will pass to your ...

New York's Children Inheritance Laws

In New York, a parent may make a will devising property to children. New York also allows parents to disinherit a child ...

Hawaii Intestate Probate Laws

A properly executed will gives you the ability to freely distribute your assets after death. In Hawaii, if you don't ...

Mississippi Estate Inheritance Laws

If a Mississippi resident fails to make arrangements for the division of his property by making a will, his property ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED