A cousin from California discovered that a mutual distant cousin died last month. The body was not claimed after a certain time so the State of Maryland currently has possession of the body. The deceased owned a car and had a storage unit (location unknown) and may have owned undeveloped land in Florida. It is possible that she has debts due to a recent health issue. The deceased was never married, had no children and no known immediate family members. No will or estate has been opened for the deceased. The apartment complex where she lived wants us to clean out her apartment. What legally can we do at this point? Do we need to be name heirs before we can clean out her apartment and storage unit or claim the body? How do we stop loss of property before this is settled legally?
Family Law Attorney
Since the person was living in Maryland and died there, you'll have to ask a Maryland probate attorney this question. I suggest you change your question or ask it again for Maryland.
I hope that this information is helpful to you. If so, please mark it as "helpful" or "best answer." The information provided here is general in nature and is not to be considered legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is intended nor created. As an Ohio attorney not licensed in any other jurisdiction, any information provided here is solely based on Ohio law and general legal principles. The information provided here should not be put into practice without specifically consulting an attorney in your jurisdiction. Do not proceed without first discussing this matter with your own local attorney.
Estate Planning Attorney
If this person was a MD resident their estate would have to be raised in MD. As to who the legal heirs are and who would be first in line to administer the estate, that depends on the state law and the exact family tree. The fact that you say this person also had property in another state and has debt issues should lead you to proceed with caution.
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature.
You have a series of estate questions under Maryland law. As a general matter, courts are in favor of getting estates wrapped up sooner rather than later, and having a family member appointed is not always necessary. You should contact a good probate attorney licensed in Maryland to go over the rest of the facts, issues, and help to develop a strategy going forward.
Mr. Arenstein's answers are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and are based only on the limited information provided in the question. Thus, his comments should not be considered legal advice, and persons seeking legal advice should contact Mr. Arenstein directly and/or another attorney with a law license in the state in which the situation arose. Mr. Arenstein is licensed to practice law in Ohio and the United States Tax Court.