When a person dies and leaves a will which distributes assets to beneficiaries, it must go through a legal proceeding known as probate. The number of probate cases in the state of Ohio is actually declining, according to the Ohio Supreme Court. This decline is probably due to the use of trusts, as well as other probate-avoidance techniques. In order to probate a will in the state of Ohio, there must be a designated executor who will legally distribute the estate’s assets and settle the affairs of the deceased. There are certain steps in a Centerville, Ohio probate which must be followed, including:
- The will of the deceased must be located, then filed in Ohio probate court with jurisdiction (depending on where the deceased resided). The will could possibly be on file with the probate court or might be filed with other important papers.
- A death certificate for the deceased must be obtained through filling out specific forms and submitting them to the department of vital statistics.
- The executor will fill out a Waiver of Notice of Probate form for each heir who can be located, obtaining a signature, then fill out a Notice of Probate form for any heir who cannot be located.
- Once the will and death certificate are in hand, along with all waivers, Notice of Probate, Certificate of Service forms and proof of service, the executor will take these documents to the probate court where he or she will fill out a Notice of Probate of Will and Certificate of Notice of Probate of Will, pay a filing fee, and set the probate process in motion.
- In unusual circumstances, the scheduled probate hearing will be attended by the executor.
Other Executor Responsibilities
The executor will also pay any outstanding bills for the deceased, including funeral expenses, taxes, and creditors, and will take an inventory of the decedent’s assets. In the state of Ohio, if the estate is small enough, it may be probated through a simplified process known as either “release from administration requirements,” or “summary release from administration requirements.”
“Small enough” means either the estate is worth less than $35,000 or there is a surviving spouse who inherits all the assets and the estate is worth less than $100,000 (expedited probate) or the value of the estate is less than $5,000—or the funeral/burial expenses exceed $5,000—and the estate is worth less than $45,000 with all assets transferring to the surviving spouse (no probate required).
As noted, all wills (other than those with a small amount of assets) must go through some form of probate, however, a trust has no such requirement. Those who want to avoid probate and keep the distribution of assets private should consider a Revocable Living Trust. Many people have a trust and a will, enabling them to cover every foreseeable eventuality following their death.
Getting the Estate Planning Help You Need
An experienced Centerville, Ohio estate planning attorney from Lovett & House Co., LPA can help determine how to plan your estate. Our attorneys have significant knowledge regarding Ohio probate and will use that knowledge to your advantage, and the advantage of your heirs. While no one wants to think about their own death, it is a necessary task for every American adult.
Remind yourself how much you care about those you will leave behind, then take the time to ensure your wishes for them will be carried out in the most expedient manner possible. The Lovett & House Centerville estate planning attorneys will answer any questions you may have regarding probate or other estate-planning issues, preparing an estate plan for you and your beneficiaries.