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2018 Statutory Changes

Of the statutory changes to the administration of estates to emerge from this year's 2018 Regular Session of the Maryland General Assembly, two bills are of particular note.

Senate Bill 292, having passed both chambers unanimously, adds § 5-608 to the Estates and Trusts Article and summarily, if the only property owned by a decedent is not more than two motor vehicles, or a boat or vessel with an appraised value that does not exceed $5,000, and the decedent's surviving spouse is the decedent's only heir or legatee, administration of an estate of the decedent is not required. The Motor Vehicle Administration may transfer title to a motor vehicle owned by the decedent to the surviving spouse if the surviving spouse certifies to the Motor Vehicle Administration that all debts and taxes owed by the decedent have been paid.

House Bill 556 also passed both houses unanimously, but not until having undergone significant amendments, adds to § 2-206(a) of the Estates and Trusts Article and provides that a Register of Wills may waive any fees un-der this section for the administration of an estate if the real property of the decedent subject to administration in the State is to be transferred to an heir of the decedent who resides on the property; or is encumbered by a lien against the property and subject to sale under Title 14, Subtitle 8 of the Tax-Property Article; and the estate is unable to pay the fees by reason of poverty.
The most significant amendment to the bill further defines "poverty" as: at the time of the decedent's death, the decedent's family household income was less than 50% of the median family income for the State as reported in the Federal Register; or the personal representative is represented by an at-torney retained through the Maryland Legal Services Corporation.

Both bills, upon becoming law, have an effective date of October 1, 2018.