I was awarded personal representative of my mom's small estate because I am her only child and next of kin. My mom has no assets or property. How do I find out if my mom owed any bills or debt? Since it is a small estate am I required to publish anything in the newspapers? I was instructed to open a small estate for litigation purposes which are currenlty in settlement negotiations. It has been two years since she passed and my friends's husband passed away a few weeks ago and she was required to publish it in the newspaper because he had property and tons of assets. What other duties am I required to do? Do I need to open a bank account for her estate?
Elder Law Attorney
Just off the cuff, your mother seems to have a small estate and should be fairly simple to probate, except for the fact that you opened a small estate for litigation purposes which is currently in the settlement process. In Maryland, as the Personal Representative, you have no affirmative obligation to seek out creditors to alert them of your mother's death. They have the obligation to file a claim against the Estate within 6 months of her date of death. If the fail to do so, they forever forego their right to make a claim. You will be required to publish in the newspaper, but if you have not yet opened the Estate, it may open and close the same day. Being that all the details are not stated in your question, you should see an attorney to help you figure out the next steps in closing out the Estate.
Elder Law Attorney
Contact the litigation attorney for a referral to a probate attorney to make sure you're jumping through all the proper hoops. From the bare facts you've already related, I'm afraid that you haven't (but I could be wrong since Maryland does things its own way)...
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I bet if you ask your litigation atty for a probate atty he or she will have one already to refer you to.
Legal disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted to practice law in the State of Missouri only, and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to Missouri. This answer is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation, and is for promotional purposes only. You should never rely on this answer alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney-client relationship. less