Maryland Restrictions on Who Can Serve as Executor

Learn the rules about who can be your executor in Maryland.

One of the most important reasons to make a will is to name your executor -- sometimes called a “personal representative” in Maryland. After your death, your executor’s primary job is to protect your property until any debts and taxes have been paid, and then transfer what’s left to those who are entitled to it.

Every state has some rules about who may serve as the executor of an estate that goes through probate. Here are the requirements in Maryland.

Basic Requirements for Serving as a Maryland Executor

Your executor must be:

  • at least 18 years old, and
  • of sound mind -- that is, not judged incapacitated by a court.

Many states prohibit people who have felony convictions from serving as executor. In Maryland, you cannot name an executor who has been convicted of a “serious crime,” unless this person demonstrates that he or she has a good reason to serve. For example, someone who has been convicted of fraud, extortion, embezzlement, forgery, perjury, or theft would in most cases be ineligible to serve as your executor.

(Md. Code Ann. Est. & Trusts § 5-105.)

Special Rules for Executors in Maryland

In addition to the restrictions above, a Maryland probate court will reject a potential executor who is a full-time judge of any Maryland or United States court, a clerk of court, or a register, unless this person is your surviving spouse or a relative within the third degree of kinship. For example, a judge of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County who is also your granddaughter would be eligible to serve as your executor.

Furthermore, the court will not appoint someone to serve as your executor if he or she is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, unless this person is your spouse, ancestor, descendent, or sibling.

(Md. Code Ann. Est. & Trusts § 5-105.)

Rules for Corporate Executors

Maryland statutes permit you to name a corporation, such as a savings bank or trust company, as your executor. (See Md. Code Ann. Est. & Trusts § § 5-101, 5-105.) But think carefully before appointing a corporation to represent your estate. It’s almost always best to name an individual; consider an institution only if you don’t know anyone you trust enough to serve or your estate is very large and complex.

Maryland Restrictions on Out-of-State Executors

For practical reasons, it’s smart to name an executor who lives near you. Your executor may have to handle day-to-day matters for weeks, months, or sometimes longer. If you must appoint an executor who lives far away, you should know the requirements Maryland imposes on out-of-state executors.

In Maryland, a nonresident executor must appoint someone who lives in the state to act as a resident agent. Your executor’s in-state agent will accept legal papers on behalf of your estate. (Md. Code Ann. Est. & Trusts § 5-105.)

Learn More

If you want to know more about an executor’s duties and responsibilities in Maryland, the Maryland Office of the Register of Wills offers a booklet describing the probate process.

For more information about choosing your executor and making your will, see the Wills section of Nolo.com.

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