Categories :: Wills/Estates/Probate > Wills

When someone dies without a will, that means he or she has died “intestate.” The person who has died is the "decedent." Maryland law decides 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. Read the law: Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts, Section 3–101

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. Examples of legitimate objections and concerns include 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, but is entitled to reasonable compensation. However, if the personal representative is administering a small estate, s/he is not entitled to compensation for his or her work. Read the law: Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts, Section 7–601 and Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts, Section 5–604

Overview of Maryland Intestacy Law:

If the Decedent has children but no spouse: 


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

If the Decedent has spouse and children who are minors (under 18):
If the Decedent has spouse and descendants, but no minor children:
If the Decedent has spouse and living parents but no descendants:
If the Decedent has parents but no spouse or descendants: 
If the Decedent has siblings, but no spouse, descendants, or parents: 


Other Facts about Intestacy Law in Maryland:

Adopted children receive an intestate share as if they are biological children. Read the law: Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts, Section 1–207

Foster children and stepchildren do not receive an automatic share. Read the law: Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts, Section 1–205(b)

If the decedent does not have a will or any family, the property will go to (“escheat” to) the state. This means that this property will go to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or the county board of education in the county where the decedent was domiciled. Read the law: Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts, Section 3–105



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); Updated by Regina Strait, Esq. (March 2017).

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