Baltimore Probate

Letters of Administration

General Definition

The Letter of Administration is a document issued by the Register of Wills that authorizes the personal representative to administer the estate.  This is the first step in initiating the process of estate administration, and no action can be taken without a Letter of Administration in hand.

Who is granted these letters?

The Register of Wills follows an order of priority in granting the letters, following Maryland Law. Priority goes to personal representative, person(s) named in the will, surviving spouse, children, etc., and then to creditors or any other person.

Can anyone obtain these letters?

Maryland has several restrictions on who has the right to these letters. The following is a list of people who are restricted:

  1. Anyone under the age of 18;
  2. Mentally incompetent individuals;
  3. Persons convicted of a serious crime;
  4. Persons who are not a citizen of the United States, unless the person is a permanent resident of the United States and is: (a) spouse of the decedent, (b) an ancestor of the decedent, (c) a descendant of the decedent, or (d) a sibling of the decedent.


Upon receiving the Letters of Administration, the Register of Wills will issue a schedule of mandatory filing deadlines. As the personal representative, you are required to make a diligent effort to meet these deadlines. Please see Opening the Estate for more information on what needs to be filed.