COVID-19 Information Update
On April 10, 2020, Governor Hogan signed an executive order suspending certain in-person witnessing requirements for wills, powers of attorney, and advance directives. These documents may be remotely witnessed and electronically signed under specific conditions, including the remote presence of a supervising attorney. This Order does not prohibit in-person witnessing.
There are changes to the law regarding remote notarizations that go into effect on October 1, 2020. These requirements are different than those that are currently allowed under the Governor's Order temporarily allowing remote notarizations during the COVID-19 health emergency. Learn more on the Secretary of State's website.
After someone dies, Maryland law does not provide a precise time limit or deadline for filing that person’s will with the Register of Wills. However, whoever has the will (or finds the will) must file it promptly after the person dies. If the person with the will refuses to file it with the Register of Wills, they can be sued by someone who is harmed by their refusal.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Estates and Trusts § 4-202
I have the will, but I’m just not ready to open an estate
After a loved one dies, you can file the will right away (a "will of no estate"), and then open the estate afterward.
A grieving family member may feel overwhelmed by time limits and paperwork. You can start by filing a “Will of No Estate,” to comply with the law, and then take some more time to gather all of the documents and information you need to open the estate, if that becomes necessary.
Criminal penalties for changing, destroying, or hiding a will
The law provides very serious penalties for cheating someone by stealing, destroying or changing a will. There are also serious penalties when someone who has agreed to care for a will destroys the will or hides it after learning about the death of the person who made the will.