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Cecil & Harford County Guardianship Attorney 

Guardianship Representation in Cecil & Harford County, Maryland 

Our Top Rated Guardianship Law Practice in Elkton, Maryland Focuses on Protecting What's Important!

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The Law Offices of Chelsea M. Sadler, LLC., offers Maryland Guardianship Law services for Cecil and Harford County, Maryland. If you are looking for a guardianship attorney to help you with legal matters that arise from issues related to incapacitation, we can offer you, personalized legal counsel. If you are looking for a Cecil County guardianship lawyer for a aging loved one or special needs adult child, we can help guide you through the Maryland Guardianship Process. Schedule a consultation to learn more about our services and how we can assist you and your loved ones. We offer flexible appointment scheduling to accommodate your busy schedule.

Applying for Guardianship in Maryland


To initiate the guardianship process, you must file a petition with the appropriate court. When a person cannot take care of their personal or financial needs because of age, disease, or disability, the court may appoint a guardian. Court-appointed guardians protect Maryland’s most vulnerable individuals. 

The petition and court process vary depending on where your loved one lives. State laws and the decision made by the court will also determine your potential risks and duties as a fiduciary — the person appointed by the court — as well as the level of control the ward retains after your appointment.

How does a court decide what to do?

The court is the ultimate decider of whether an alleged disabled person lacks the legal capacity to make decisions regarding his or her care or finances. The court must base its determination of disability, however, on supporting medical evidence from qualified health care providers.  

To prove disability, two physicians OR one physician and a psychologist or certified social worker-clinical (LCSW-C), must provide to the court verified certificates that describe the medical or psychological diagnoses of the disability.

Types of Guardianship in Maryland


  • Guardianship of a Minor
  • Guardianship of  an Adult
  • Guardianship of an Alleged Disabled Person
  • Guardianship of the Property

A court-appointed guardian may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred while carrying out his or her duties as Guardian. Additionally, a court-appointed Guardian may receive a commission for serving as Guardian. A Guardianship terminates upon the death of the incompetent individual or when the court restores the individual’s competence.


When would an adult need a guardian?

With our population living longer, there may come a time during an elderly person’s life when someone else may have to make decisions concerning his or her medical care or financial affairs. But at what point can a person no longer, legally, make those decisions? When is he or she legally “incompetent?” 

Legal discussions on this issue refer to a person’s “capacity,” rather than “competence.” Mental capacity is one of the most difficult of legal questions because it is not easy to determine the point in the progress of a disease at which the faculties are so far impaired that they fall below the standard of legal capacity. Certainly, the mere diagnosis of a disease is not sufficient, in and of itself, to prove that a person lacks the legal capacity to make his or her own decisions. For example, a person may have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, but still have sufficient capacity to pay bills in a timely manner. 

Guardian of the Property: A court will establish a guardianship for a person’s property when it can be shown that a person has or may be entitled to property or benefits that require proper management and is unable to effectively manage that property because of a physical or mental disability or disease (or in several other specific circumstances). When there is a medical condition present, this standard can usually be met by merely showing that a person can no longer balance a checkbook, pay household bills, or handle mail responsibly. At that point, the court can appoint a guardian to act on behalf of the court to manage a disabled person’s property. However, you must still show the court that there are no less restrictive alternatives available. 

Guardianship of the Person: A person is legally disabled (or lacks legal capacity) when he or she lacks sufficient understanding or ability to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning himself or herself, such as provisions for health care, food, clothing, or shelter. The disability can be because of: 

  • mental disability 

  • disease 

  • habitual drunkenness 

  • addiction to drugs,  

Establishing guardianship of a person will be necessary for two primary situations:  

  1. Where the alleged disabled person failed to execute a health care power of attorney and certain medical procedures are necessary that require consent.  

  2. When more than one person in the family wants to care for an alleged disabled person, the family is unable to resolve this conflict on its own.



  • How will your estate be distributed if you die without a will?
    IF THE DECEDENT IS SURVIVED BY: ​ Spouse and minor children of decedent — spouse receives one-half, children share remaining one-half Spouse and children (all adult) of the decedent—spouse receives $40,000 ($15,000 for a date of death prior to October 1, 2017) plus one-half of remaining estate; children divide balance (the interest of a predeceased child passes to issue of that child) Children only of the decedent — children divide entire estate (the interest of a predeceased child passes to issue of that child) Spouse and parents of the decedent — if married more than 5 years see No. 5, if married less than 5 years the spouse receives $40,000 ($15,000 for a date of death prior to October 1, 2017) plus one-half of remaining estate — both parents divide balance or surviving parent takes balance Spouse of the decedent without other heirs listed above — spouse receives entire estate Parents of the decedent without other heirs listed above — both parents divide entire estate or surviving parent takes all Brothers/sisters of the decedent without heirs listed above — brothers and sisters divide estate equally (share of deceased sibling goes to their issue - nieces and nephews of the decedent) Grandparents without other heirs listed above — grandparents divide entire estate or, if deceased, to their issue (see applicable law for details) Great-grandparents without other heirs listed above — great-grandparents divide entire estate or, if deceased, to their issue Stepchildren — if there are no heirs listed above No living heirs or stepchildren — if decedent was recipient of long-term care benefits under the Maryland Medical Assistance Program at time of death, net estate is paid to Department of Health. Otherwise, the net estate is paid to the Board of Education in the county of the decedent’s domicile ​ NOTE: “Child” does not include a stepchild or foster child
  • Does having a Will mean I can avoid probate in Maryland?
    Not always, but with careful planning, your beneficiaries might be able to avoid the probate procedure. Your estate plan will determine if probate is required.
  • What does a Maryland Probate Attorney do?
    As Maryland probate attorneys we offer families and individuals legal guidance and support during the estate administration process. In addition to assisting with the management of the estate's assets and liabilities, we often assist with the filing of wills and other legal documents. We also offer guidance on dealing with tax matters and allocating the estate's assets to the right beneficiaries. As Probate attorneys we can also be used to resolve beneficiary disputes as well as represent the estate in court, if necessary.
  • How much does probate cost?
    Probate Attorney Fees Maryland statutes spell out the fees and commissions estate attorneys may receive for normal administrative tasks. Any fees above the maximum permitted amount require approval by the Maryland Orphans Court. Fees within the standard range do not require court approval if all interested parties' consent. The state formula for attorney compensation is 9 percent of the first $20,000 of the gross estate and 3.6 percent of the amount over $20,000. For example, the standard attorney fee for an estate valued at $1 million is $37,080. That breaks down to $1,800 for the first $20,000 at 9 percent, and $35,280 for the remaining $980,000 at 3.6 percent. All such estate attorney fees are paid by the estate. The state formula is not the only option. Attorneys may also charge by the hour, and this arrangement is more efficient for many estates and personal representatives. As of January 1, 2023 our firm's hourly Estate Administration fee is $300 per hour we run the calculation of hourly vs. the state formula and whatever is less is what we charge. Probate Administration Fees Under Maryland law, probate and estate planning attorney fees are based on the total gross estate. For example, an estate valued at a minimum of $250,000 but less than $500,000 must pay $500 in fees, while an estate worth at least $500,000 but less than $750,000 owes $750. An estate worth $2 million but less than $5 million pays $2,500. Estates worth $5 million and up pay a $2,500 fee plus 0.2 percent on any excess over $5 million. These Maryland executor fees don’t include additional Letters of Administration, certified mail fees, filing a will for safekeeping, entering claims or caveat papers and plain, certified or exemplified copies. Attorney expenses not considered part of normal estate administration include: Copying and printing expenses Automobile mileage Court filing fees Bond premiums Messenger services. Extraordinary Services Common tasks falling outside the scope of normal estate administration but often undertaken by the probate attorney for additional fees upon request of the personal representative include: Leasing or sale of estate property Appearances before planning or zoning boards Recovering assets belonging to the estate held by another party Defense of tax audits Schedule a consultation today to find out how we can protect what's important to you.
  • How long does probate take in Maryland?
    In Maryland, the probate process can take a year or more. After the date of death, creditors have six months to file a claim. Probate must be open for at least six months after the assets have been divided so that a creditor can file a claim. If the will is challenged or other delays occur, it might take considerably longer. Even with a smaller inheritance, creditors must be given a minimum of seven to nine months' notice.
  • What are the responsibilities of a Personal Representative in a Maryland?
    As the personal representative of an estate during the Maryland Estate Probate Process, there are several key responsibilities that need to be fulfilled. Here is a list of responsibilities for the personal representative: 1. Gather and safeguard estate assets: Identify, locate, and secure all assets owned by the decedent, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and other valuable possessions. 2. Prepare and file the Petition for Probate: Work with our attorney to prepare and file the Petition for Probate with the appropriate Maryland court to initiate the probate process and obtain legal authority to administer the estate. 3. Notify interested parties: Provide notice to beneficiaries named in the will, potential heirs, and known creditors about the probate proceedings and their rights within the process. This may include publishing a notice to creditors in a local newspaper. 4. Create and maintain detailed records: Keep accurate records of all financial transactions, including income, expenses, and distributions made during the probate process. This includes maintaining receipts, invoices, bank statements, and other relevant documents. 5. Inventory and appraisal: Work with our attorney to compile a comprehensive inventory of the decedent's assets and their values. This may involve obtaining appraisals for certain assets to determine their fair market value as of the date of death. 6. Settle outstanding debts: Notify creditors of the decedent's passing and review and validate any claims submitted. Negotiate and settle legitimate debts using available estate assets, ensuring the fair treatment of creditors. 7. File necessary tax returns: Collaborate with our attorney and potentially a tax professional to prepare and file any required tax returns, such as the federal estate tax return (Form 706) or Maryland estate tax return, if applicable. 8. Distribute assets to beneficiaries: Once all debts, taxes, and administrative expenses have been settled, distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will or, in the absence of a will, in accordance with Maryland law. Ensure proper documentation and transfer of assets. 9. Prepare a final accounting: Work with the attorney to prepare a final accounting, which provides a detailed report of all financial transactions and distributions made during the probate process. 10. Obtain court approval and close the estate: Submit the final accounting and any other required documentation to the court for review and approval. Once the court approves, file the necessary paperwork to officially close the estate and be released from personal representative duties. It's important to note that the personal representative may have additional responsibilities based on the specific circumstances of the estate. Working closely with an experienced estate planning and probate attorney can help ensure that all responsibilities are fulfilled correctly and efficiently.
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