Probate proceedings can vary in complexity, documentation, and process, but probate serves the same function in every state. Probate court deals with the estate, finances, debts, and any assets per the deceased’s will. The probate process ensures beneficiaries receive their inheritance. It also allows a will to be contested.
The probate process can be difficult to navigate on your own, especially when an inheritance is involved. At Heban, Murphree, and Lewandowski, we have over 150 years of combined probate experience fulfilling the needs of our clients. You have questions, and our team has the expertise to answer them and keep matters simple during a difficult time in your life. Let’s get started by learning more about the probate process and how it works in Ohio.
The primary purpose of probate is to determine the validity of a will. This validity and authenticity of a will can be contested for several reasons, including forgery or undue influence. However, in most cases, probate is completed successfully without a contest. Probate can also refer to the processing and administration of an estate that lacked a will.
Probate begins when the owner of an estate passes away. If the estate owner has a will, the probate process will be carried out by an executor named in the will. This executor is often an attorney or an individual who receives legal counsel to help carry out their duties. These duties include the following:
If the deceased does not have a will, the estate is distributed to the next of kin. In Ohio, next of kin generally refers to a surviving spouse followed by descendants. Therefore, a will is necessary to ensure that an estate follows the inheritance path intended by the estate owner rather than the courts.
Not every asset needs to be processed through probate court. Assets that can be passed to a beneficiary without probate include the following:
In most cases, probate cannot be avoided. Therefore, making an estate plan with an attorney well-versed in estate law is essential. The attorney ensures probate is completed without problems and beneficiaries receive their inheritance in a full and timely fashion.
There is a simplified probate process in the state of Ohio. This process can be implemented if an executor files a written request to probate court requesting that the simplified procedure is used. However, one of the following conditions must be met to proceed with simplified probate:
The process still requires a substantial amount of paperwork, including a description of all the estate assets. However, tiny estates, worth less than $5,000, may not require probate at all.
You may want to keep your wishes private until you have passed. Before the death of the testator, a will is private. It is only seen by the testator (owner of the will) and their attorney. It can be deposited at a local probate court for safekeeping until the testator is deceased. It cannot be viewed by anyone other than the testator until then.
However, during the probate process, a will becomes a public record. In Ohio, your will becomes public record when it is filed or recorded in Ohio probate court. The will is presented to the court by the executor named in the will.
If a revocable or irrevocable trust is established before death, the will may convey that all property is granted to the trust. A trust agreement is not generally a public record, so this is one way of preventing estate information from being divulged to the public.
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