Without a will or estate plan, everyone’s estate will go through probate. Even people with a plan in place may have some assets that still need to go through the probate system, yet many people do not fully understand what probate is or how the process works. Here are some common questions and answers regarding probate in Ohio.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process to administer and distribute the assets in a person’s estate who has died. Probate oversees the processing of claims by creditors, expenses, and taxes, and then is used to distribute what is left to the person’s heirs. The property that is left is distributed according to the person’s will or by Ohio law if there is no will provided. The probate process happens in every state where the person owned property, so it is possible for multiple probate proceedings to occur at one time.
What Property is Excluded from Probate?
There are some assets that are not included in the probate process. Called non-probate property, these assets include property held as joint tenants with a right of survivorship, assets held in a trust, payable on death or transfer on death accounts, and any accounts where a beneficiary is named (life insurance, retirement accounts, annuities, etc.). All other property and assets within the estate must go through the probate process and be accounted for by the court.
How Does the Probate Process Work?
The probate process starts in court where a judge appoints an administrator for the estate. If there is a will, this person is known as the executor. The administrator can be a person, bank, or a trust company and will handle all issues regarding the estate until it is closed. These tasks include caring for the person’s property, receiving all payments and interest on current assets, collecting debts and handling creditor claims, identifying all heirs to the estate, investigating the validity of all claims against the estate and paying off all valid debts, paying all of the final taxes on the estate, and finally distributing all remaining assets to the heirs of the estate.
What are the Costs of Probate?
There are many costs involved with the probate process. Financially, there are court costs and attorney’s fees for the probate system. There is also opportunity cost involved, as probate proceedings can take months or years to conclude. These costs are also exacerbated by any family issues or will contests on the estate. Squabbles over estate assets can cost each person involved thousands of dollars, months or years of time, and possibly broken relationships with family and loved ones.
Contact an Ohio Estate Planning Attorney
Probate can be a lengthy and complex process to try and handle all on your own. If you or someone that you know has questions regarding probate in Akron, Youngstown, Aurora, or Warren, let the experienced Law Office of John C. Grundy help today. Call the office or contact us for a free and confidential consultation on your estate planning needs.