Next of kin are generally defined in Maryland as the closest members of one’s family, and are limited to those people living who are the closest blood relatives to the person in question.
Who Are Next of Kin In Maryland?
Generally, next of kin in Maryland are the persons listed below, in the order listed:
- Surviving Spouse
- Children’s descendants
- Siblings descendants
- Paternal and maternal kindred
Next of Kin And Intestate Succession In Maryland
Most commonly, the decedent’s surviving next of kin determine the descent of decedent’s property if the decedent died intestate. This is pulled from MD Code, Estates and Trusts, § 3-102, and from MD Code, Estates and Trusts, § 3-104. (Note that some of these provisions were changed in 2019, so other material that may be seen on the internet is out of date and no longer valid.)
Family Composition of the Decedent at Death
children but no spouse
children inherit everything
spouse but no descendants or parents
spouse inherits everything
spouse and children who are minors
spouse inherits one-half of the intestate property
children inherit everything else
spouse and descendants, but no children who are minors
spouse inherits $40,000 worth of the intestate property, plus one-half of the balance
descendants inherit everything else
spouse and parents but no descendants
If married less than five years
:spouse inherits $40,000 of the intestate property, plus one-half of the balance
parents inherit everything else
If married five years or longer: spouse inherits the entire estate
siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents
siblings inherit everything, by right of representation
parents but no spouse or descendants
living parents inherit everything, if no living parent, then parents heirs inherit with right of representation
Do You Have to Survive a Certain Amount of Time to Inherit in Maryland?
Yes, Maryland law imposes a 30 day survival requirement, so that if an heir does not survive the deceased by 30 days, that heir is considered to have predeceased the decedent. MD Code, Estates and Trusts, § 3-110 provides:
§ 3-110. Survival requirements
(a) If a descendant, ancestor, or descendant of an ancestor of the decedent, fails to survive the decedent by 30 full days, the descendant, ancestor, or descendant of an ancestor of the decedent:
(1) Shall be considered to have predeceased the decedent for purposes of intestate succession; and
(2) Is not to be entitled to the rights of an heir.
(b) If the time of death of the decedent or of the descendant, ancestor, or descendant of an ancestor of the decedent, who would otherwise be an heir, or the times of death of both, cannot be determined, so that it cannot be established that the descendant, ancestor, or descendant of an ancestor of the decedent has survived the decedent by 30 full days, the descendant, ancestor, or descendant of an ancestor of the decedent may not be considered to have survived for the required period.
What Does “With Representation” Mean Under Maryland Law?
If an inheritance is with representation, whether by statute or the will, a deceased heir’s share is divided into shares for each of the deceased heir’s descendants.
Also known as “per stirpes,” this means that the children of a deceased heir each inherit, themselves in equal shares, the share that their parent would have received. MD Code, Estates and Trusts, § 1-210 provides:
(a) When provision is made for representation in this article, the shares shall be determined in accordance with subsections (b) and (c) of this section.
Issue of decedent
(b)(1) In the case of issue of the decedent, the property shall be divided into as many equal shares as there are children of the decedent who survive the decedent and children of the decedent who did not survive the decedent but of whom issue did survive the decedent.
(2) Each child of the decedent who did survive the decedent shall receive one share and the issue of each child of the decedent who did not survive the decedent but of whom issue did survive the decedent shall receive one share apportioned by applying to the children and other issue of each nonsurviving child of the decedent the pattern of representation provided for in this subsection for the children and other issue of the decedent and repeating that pattern with respect to succeeding generations until all shares are determined.
Issue of parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent of decedent
(c)(1) In the case of issue of a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent of the decedent, the property shall be divided into as many equal shares as there are lineal descendants of either, or of both, of the pair of parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents, as the case may be, of the nearest degree of relationship to the decedent of whom any survived the decedent and who did so survive, and lineal descendants of the same degree who did not survive the decedent but of whom issue did survive the decedent.
(2) Each lineal descendant of the nearest degree surviving the decedent shall receive one share and the issue of each deceased lineal descendant of that degree who left issue surviving the decedent shall receive one share apportioned in the manner of representation set forth for issue of the decedent in subsection (b) of this section.
A Maryland probate lawyer can help you determine your rights as next of kin.