Appointment of a Special Administrator in Maryland Probate

Judge signing paperwork with justice hummer on table, appointment of special administrator during probate process concept.

During the Maryland probate process, a court might appoint a special administrator to identify and protect the decedent’s property, as well as locate heirs pending the appointment of a personal representative. The special administrator is tasked with safeguarding the decedent’s property until a resolution to these other issues can be reached. Essentially, they serve in a temporary role with limited powers until the personal representative takes over.

What is Probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process by which the assets, debts, and beneficiaries of the decedent are identified. During probate, the court determines whether the will is valid and appoints a personal representative to oversee the administration of the estate. The personal representative handles numerous complex tasks throughout the process, including paying creditors and distributing the remaining assets to the estate’s beneficiaries.

Any United States citizen of sound mind over the age of 18 who has not been convicted of a felony can serve as a personal representative in the Maryland probate process. The individual should also be detail oriented, possess good organizational skills, and have solid judgment. A personal representative can be named in the decedent’s last will and testament, or the court can appoint someone if there was no will in place.

When is a Special Administrator Appointed During Probate?

A special administrator may be appointed when it is necessary to protect the property in a decedent’s estate before a personal representative has been designated. Alternatively, a special administrator may also be appointed if there is a vacancy before a successor personal representative steps in. This can happen in cases where the personal representative resigns or is removed.

The appointment of a special administrator may either be initiated by the court or upon the petition of an interested person. The petition can be filed by a creditor, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, or the individual who has been appointed to protect the estate of a personal representative in the event they are under a legal disability. A petition for the appointment of a special administrator must contain the following information:

  • A short description of the property that requires safeguarding
  • A statement concerning why the appointment is necessary
  • The reasons for delay in the appointment of a personal representative, if applicable

Once the special administrator is appointed, they must typically secure a bond — unless the court prescribes otherwise. Generally, it is not required to give notice of the special administrator’s appointment.

Any person deemed suitable may be appointed as a special administrator. Particular consideration will be given to a person who may ultimately be entitled to become the personal representative of the estate. This individual may be appointed if they are immediately available to serve in the position.

What are the Powers and Duties of a Special Administrator?

As with the appointment of a personal representative, the special administrator’s powers are granted in the Letters of Administration issued by the court. However, their powers are restricted. While the limitations of a special administrator are not clearly defined under Maryland law, the individual in this role may never sell property belonging to the estate without the court’s approval.

Specifically, a special administrator is tasked with carrying out certain duties, as set forth in the order issued by the court. Under Maryland Code, they will assume any unperformed duties of a personal representative. These duties include:

  • Preparing inventories
  • Filing accounts and notices of filing accounts
  • Preparing paperwork regarding proposed payments of fees
  • Collecting, managing, and preserving property in the estate
  • Provide an accounting to the personal representative when appointed

In addition to the above, the special administrator may be assigned additional duties and powers by the court from time to time.

Importantly, it is the duty of every personal representative or special administrator to timely file an inventory of the estate with schedules — this must be done within three months from the date of the appointment. The court also requires the first account to be filed within nine months after the date of appointment. If it is not a final account, subsequent accounts must be filed as required under the law until the estate has been closed.

Contact an Experienced Maryland Probate Attorney

Attorney Henry Nash is adept at handling a wide variety of probate and estate administration matters. If you need assistance throughout the Maryland probate process and securing appointment as the personal representative of an estate, we have the insight and experience to address your needs.

At The Law Office of Henry Nash, we work with clients in Rockville, throughout Montgomery County, and elsewhere in Maryland. We also assist out-of-state personal representatives for Maryland estates. If you have questions about any of our legal services, we welcome you to call us at (301) 998-6111 or contact us through our online form.