In Maryland, an executor (also known as a personal representative) plays a crucial role when it is time to settle an estate and distribute assets after a loved one has passed away. Working with an attorney who has knowledge and experience in estate administration is also crucial, since the attorney can help make this complex process more efficient and easier to manage for family members during a difficult and stressful time in their lives.
The Responsibilities and Duties of the Executor
The fiduciary responsibilities of an executor are extensive and can include collecting and organizing estate assets, the payment of debts, and the distribution of estate assets according to terms outlined in the will or Maryland intestacy laws. Accomplishing this may entail searching for and making an inventory of estate assets, determining their value on the date the decedent passed away, closely scrutinizing estate expenses and debts, filing necessary federal and state tax returns (and estate tax returns if applicable), and devising a plan for asset distribution to heirs.
What is Involved in Changing or Removing an Executor
If an executor feels that he or she is unable to adequately perform the required tasks, or simply does not want to serve in this capacity, the executor must ask the court to name a replacement. Only the court can authorize a change of executor, and there is a filing fee for making such a change. In addition, the individual who would become the new executor must be ready to fulfill the role at the time the original executor makes the request to the court for removal.
If an executor fails to perform his or her duties, the court can replace the executor with someone better able to fulfill this important role. If the executor passes away before completing the process, the court will appoint another executor. The person who wishes to be the new executor must petition the court to be appointed “successor executor.”
It is worth noting that an executor does not have to be a legal resident of Maryland. However, if the executor is not a Maryland resident, a “resident agent” must be named.
If you are an executor in need of assistance, or for experienced legal counsel on all aspects of Maryland estate settlement and probate, we invite you to call the Law Offices of Clifford M. Cohen at (202) 895-2799 to schedule a consultation. We can meet in-person at our office or virtually via Zoom and other platforms.