Categories :: Wills/Estates/Probate > Wills

When someone dies without a will, that means he or she has died “intestate.” Maryland law designates who will inherit property from someone who dies intestate. Maryland law also sets out a priority of who inherits property first and the percentage of the decedent’s property each person has the right to inherit. 

Even when a decedent dies with a will, the people who would have been that decedent’s heirs under Maryland intestacy law are entitled to notice of any activity in the estate, including distributions, to allow them to address legitimate objections and concerns, such as challenging a will that is fraudulent or invalid and removing a personal representative failing to meet his or her duties.

If there is no valid will, the personal representative must distribute the property according to Maryland intestacy law. The personal representative is not guaranteed to take any of the decedent’s property, and the personal representative of a small estate is not entitled to compensation for his or her work in administering the estate.

Overview of Maryland intestacy law:

If the Decedent has children but no spouse:

  •     Children inherit everything.

If the Decedent has spouse but no living parents or children:

  •     Spouse inherits everything.

If the Decedent has spouse and children who are minors (under 18):

  •     Spouse inherits ½ of intestate property; and
  •     Children inherit everything else.

If the Decedent has spouse and descendants, but no minor children:

  •     Spouse inherits $15,000 of intestate property and ½ of the rest; and
  •     Descendants inherit everything else.

If the Decedent has spouse and living parents but no descendants:

  •     Spouse inherits $15,000 of intestate property and ½ of the rest; and
  •     Parents inherit everything else.

If the Decedent has parents but no spouse or descendants:

  •     Parents inherit everything.

If the Decedent has siblings, but no spouse, descendants, or parents:

  •     Siblings inherit everything.

Other Facts about Intestacy Law in Maryland

  • Adopted children receive an intestate share as if they are biological children
  • Foster children and stepchildren do not receive an automatic share
  • If the decedent does not have a will or any family, the property will go to, or “escheat” to the state
    • This property will go towards the Maryland Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene or the county board of education in the county where the decedent was domiciled.




Sharon Martin and William L. Rodowsky, Practicing pursuant to Rule 16 of the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar of Maryland – University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law (2014-2015).

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