GUIDE TO OPENING AN ESTATE IN MARYLAND
How to Open a Small Estate in Maryland for an Accident Case
This is a guide for how to open an estate in Maryland. When the prospective defendant in an accident case is deceased, it is usually necessary to open an estate to give them the necessary legal standing to be a party in the tort case.
Below is an outline for getting an estate opened for litigation purposes. Of course, it the overwhelming majority of Maryland accident cases where this is necessary, you are suing an estate in name only because the claim is defended and paid by an insurance company.
- Check to make sure no estate has already been opened for the decedent. Use the Maryland Estate Search system.
- Contact the Register of Wills for the County where the decedent last resided and ask about the process for opening an estate. Each jurisdiction has its own fees and unique requirements.
- Order a Death Certificate.
File the Estate Petition
Your petition must include the following completed forms:
A hearing date is set in Orphans Court and takes approximately 30 minutes from start to finish. Make it clear to the judge that the estate is being opened for litigation purposes only and you are requesting personal representative status for purposes of service and so the insurance company can issue a check on behalf of an entity that exists in place of their deceased insured (since he or she clearly doesn’t exist anymore….). Some judges are okay if they understand you are an employee of the firm which is suing the estate, some are not – gauge carefully.