A Boutique Trusts & Estates Law Firm

I’ve been named Personal Representative of an estate. What do I do next?

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Part of our practice at Frankel Sims Law is helping Personal Representatives and Executors with the probate process (estate administration). Often, this is the client’s first time experiencing the probate process and they have many questions. This post is an overview of some of the frequently asked questions our clients have regarding probate and acting as a Personal Representative.

What is Probate?

Probate is the process by which a decedent’s assets are passed on to others. If the decedent died “testate” (with a Will), the assets are distributed according to the decedent’s Will. If the decedent died “intestate” (without a Will), the assets are distributed according to the intestacy statute of the state in which the decedent was domiciled (or, in the case of real property, the state where real property is located). For more information on intestacy statutes, please see our prior blog post here.

When is probate required?

Probate is required after death if the decedent held assets in his or her sole name or as tenants-in-common with another person. There generally is no requirement for when probate must begin, but starting quickly can avoid problems.

In Maryland, a decedent’s Will must be filed with the court even if there are no assets that need to be probated.

How is Probate Started?

Probate begins when the Personal Representative, Executor, or another interested party files the required documents with the Register of Wills in the county where the decedent was domiciled.

Personal Representatives should be aware that there are various types of estates, each with its own procedural requirements, determined by the value of the assets that the decedent held at the time of his or her death.

I’ve Been Appointed Personal Representative. What am I Required to do?

As Personal Representative, you are responsible for settling the estate and distributing the assets of the estate in accordance with the decedent’s Will and the law of the jurisdiction in which the assets are being probated. This could include collecting the decedent’s assets, paying the decedent’s debts, filing financial accounts, and preparing other documents required by the Register of Wills.

Do I Need an Attorney to Assist me to act as Personal Representative?

You are not required to hire an attorney to probate an estate. However, the Register of Wills office cannot provide legal advice. Often, in the course of probate, the Personal Representative will have questions that can be difficult to answer without knowledge of case law and statutes. An attorney can provide services that range from answering these occasional questions to assisting in the probate of the entire estate, including completing forms to be filed with the Register of Wills.

Is There Anything Else I Need to do Besides Probate the Estate?

There may be more to do. Some states, assess inheritance tax on certain transfers of property at death, so there may be a need to file an inheritance tax return with the state. In addition, in some states, there is a state-level estate tax assessed if the estate assets exceed a certain value. Lastly, if there is a surviving spouse or if the decedent’s assets and lifetime gifts are valued in excess of $5,250,000, a federal estate tax return may have to be filed.

At Frankel Sims Law, we have assisted probate clients in a range of ways, from answering the occasional question to providing complete estate administration services. It is up to our clients to determine the level of involvement they wish our office to have, and we are happy to assist in all situations. The death of a loved one can be a stressful process, and we strive to make probate as easy as possible for our clients.

This post is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions regarding probate or estate administration, please contact a licensed attorney.


For Immediate Release

Contact: Jane Frankel Sims


Contact: Frank Campbell


Sims & Campbell Estates and Trusts

Frankel Sims Law and Holden & Campbell
Merge to Form Sims & Campbell

Firm will offer comprehensive Trusts & Estates services through offices in Towson and Annapolis

TOWSON, Md. (April 26,2019)  Frankel Sims Law and Holden & Campbell have jointly announced the merger of their firms to create a boutique Trusts & Estates law firm providing comprehensive services in the fields of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Trust Administration and Charitable Giving. The combined firm will be named Sims & Campbell and have offices in Towson, Md. and Annapolis, Md.  Jane Frankel Sims and Frank Campbell will lead and hold equal ownership stakes in the firm.

Sims & Campbell will have 9 attorneys and 15 legal professionals that handle every facet of estate and wealth transfer planning, including wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, estate and gift tax advice, and charitable giving strategies.  The firm will focus solely on Trusts & Estates but will serve a wide range of clients, from young families with modest resources to ultra-high net worth individuals.  This allows clients to remain with the firm as their level of wealth and the complexity of related estate and tax implications change over time. 

“By joining forces, we have expanded our footprint to conveniently serve clients in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia” said Jane Frankel Sims.  We are seeing some of the greatest wealth transfer in our country’s history, and we want to continue to be on the leading edge of helping our clients maintain and enhance their family’s wealth.  In addition, we aim to serve our clients for years to come, and the new firm structure will allow Sims & Campbell to thrive even after Frank and I have retired.”    

“Jane and I have always admired each other’s firms and recognized the need to provide even greater depth and breadth of focused expertise to help families amass and protect their wealth from generation to generation,” said Frank Campbell.  “Now we have even greater capabilities to make a real difference for our clients.” 

The Sims & Campbell Towson office is located at 500 York Road, on the corner of York Road and Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of Towson.  The Annapolis office is currently located at 716 Melvin Avenue, and is moving to 181 Truman Parkway in August, 2019.  For more information, visit www.simscampbell.law.