Funeral-Expense Allowance Increased for Small Estates in Maryland

A new Maryland law increases the maximum allowance that a court may grant to a small estate for funeral expenses from $5,000 to $10,000.

Chapter 226, effective prospectively as of October 1, 2012, also amends the Estates and Trusts Article of Maryland to clarify what expenses qualify as “funeral expenses.”

Coffin Funeral Expense

Funerary expenses such as a coffin may be paid from the estate of the decedent instead of the pocket of the survivor.

Superficially, the new law makes it easier for Maryland probate attorneys like me to determine whether an expense can be written off against a client’s estate for funerary purposes.

More importantly, the new law provides financial relief to survivors already dealing with emotional stress.

Funerals are expensive and, candidly, it was high time this law was updated.

In numerous Maryland jurisdictions, funerals cost in excess of $5,000.  Before this law, many personal representatives of small estates had to pay money out-of-pocket to bury their loved ones in order to cover the deficit resulting from the low expense ceiling for small estates.  

Now, probate officials will be able to authorize up to $10,000 be paid from the estate of the decedent to cover “funeral expenses,” defined as “the costs of a funeral, a burial, a cremation, a disposition of the decedent’s remains, a memorial, a memorial service, food and beverages related to bringing together the decedent’s family and friends for a wake or prefuneral or postfuneral gathering or meal, and any other reasonable expenses authorized by the decedent’s will.”

The definition was added so that so that Maryland registers of wills and orphans’ court judges across all jurisdictions adhere to the same standard in deeming whether an expense qualifies as a “funeral expense.”

According to the law’s fiscal policy note, the measure will not “materially affect” the State of Maryland’s budget.

As always, good luck and good hunting.

__________________________________________

The Fisher Law Office is renowned for its experience in estate planning, probate administration, asset protection, and business law. Annapolis attorney Randall D. Fisher has practiced for over 20 years, maintains the highest peer review rating for ethics (AV Preeminent) by Martindale-Hubbell, and is a sucker for long walks on the fairways.

Find out how to reach Randy via TheFisherLawOffice.com or find him at Facebook.com/FisherLawOffice, on Twitter @thefisherlawoffice, or at LinkedIn.com/in/FisherLawOffice.

Image: CC licensed for commercial use. Source matrianklw neither approves nor endorses the content of this blog and the Fisher Law Office.

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