Same Sex Surviving Spouse – Slowly Getting Recognition in Maryland

Written by Mark F. Scurti (mscurti@pklaw.com), Esquire:

A Baltimore County attorney who was recently opening an estate for a same sex married couple, was stopped short when the clerk’s office refused to acknowledge the couple’s marriage, thus attempting to levy over $45,000 in inheritance taxes to the surviving spouse. The attorney contacted PK Law’s Same-Sex Attorney, Mark Scurti, and together they contacted Grace Connolly, the Baltimore County Register of Wills.  Ms. Connolly agreed that the couple was married, that her office would recognize the marriage, and accept the estate as such.  She further stated that her office should have recognized the same-sex marriage as valid.   This meant the surviving spouse did not have to sell the marital home or other assets to pay the substantial inheritance taxes that were to be levied.  

Other jurisdictions have followed suit.  Byron MacFarlane, Register of Wills for Howard County, has said if any attorneys have clients with contacts with Howard County, he would accept the estate of a same sex married couple who may otherwise not get the same respect and recognition in other jurisdictions in Maryland.  Baltimore City’s Register of Wills has declared that it will recognize and accept same-sex marriage estates, and the Maryland Attorney General’s office has recently advised all Register of Wills to accept out of state marriage licenses.