A four-year liquidation plan for Old Court Savings & Loan, released this week by the state, for the first time sets out a tentative timetable for repayment of depositors.

The plan, formulated by the Maryland Deposit Insurance Fund, the state agency acting as receiver for the failed Baltimore thrift, calls for the return of $210 million of depositors' funds by a target date of June 1987, and a complete return of up to $100,000 per account by December 1989.

The amount in Old Court accounts currently totals $585 million.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Joseph H.H. Kaplan, who is overseeing Old Court's liquidation, said yesterday: "This is their game plan so everybody knows what direction they're going in. It's very difficult to have a firm plan of liquidation because you don't know when you're going to sell certain assets and what they'll get for them."

The frequency of payouts to depositors would be tied to MDIF's success in selling off Old Court's assets. Payments would not be issued on a regular quarterly basis as projected earlier this year by Gov. Harry Hughes.

The first payment to depositors -- $100 million transferred from the state's transporation trust fund -- is slated for May 19. Depositors will then receive up to $5,000 of their funds, giving half of Old Court's 34,000 depositors full access to their money.

According to the MDIF plan, a second payout of about $110 million is possible by the end of this year, and a third payout is possible by mid-1987. However, in order to avoid raising "false expectations in this critical area," MDIF has tentatively outlined a more extended payment schedule.

Under that schedule, depositors would receive a second payment by June 1987, a third payment by June 1988 and a final payment by December 1989.

The plan drew criticism yesterday from representatives of a statewide depositors' group.

"I think the depositors clearly understood there would be quarterly payments," said David Lange, cochairman of the Maryland Savings and Loan Depositors Committee. "Instead, what is being provided is four payments after the initial one."

But MDIF Director Melville Brown said that a firm commitment for quarterly payments exists "strictly in the minds of depositors."

"There was no promise of that," said Brown. "How the heck can you commit yourself to making quarterly payments when the source of the payments is unknown?"

In addition to the uncertainty of asset sales, Brown said, quarterly payments to depositors would run up high administrative costs that would have to come out of the thrift's remaining funds.

A spokesman for Hughes said yesterday that the governor's mention of quarterly payments earlier this year was based on projections at the time and was not a commitment to such a schedule.

The plan calls for payments to depositors each time $100 million is accrued through asset sales. The cash accrual needed would diminish toward the end of the four-year schedule.

Brown stressed that the figures contained in the MDIF plan were subject to quarterly revision, based on the progress on the sale of Old Court's assets.

Robert Erwin, attorney for the depositors group, said the plan raises questions about how fast assets can be sold and how much money MDIF needs to accumulate before making a payment to depositors.

But he acknowleged that "there is no question that you need to have a reasonable amount before it is worth incurring those expenses" of making the payments.