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The first time most Kettering residents encounter probate court is when a loved one passes away. At this point, the family is struggling to cope with the grief and trauma of losing a loved one at the same time as dealing with the legalities of administering the estate.
Sadly, for some families, the estate process will be much more difficult because their loved one died without a will. This added stress does not need to happen. Drafting a will and an estate plan is not as difficult as you may believe, especially if you have an experienced, compassionate, and dedicated estate planning attorney guide you through the process.
The Kettering estate planning attorneys of Lovett & House can help you design an estate plan that protects your family and your assets when you are gone. Call (937) 429-7730 to learn how simple it is to give your loved ones the peace of mind and comfort they need in one of the most trying times of their lives.
What is the Probate Process in Kettering, Ohio?
The probate process in Kettering is the same as it is throughout the state. Ohio has a unified Probate Code that applies to all counties within the state. Probate is simply the legal process of administering a person’s estate once that person has died. The probate process involves:
- Securing the property of the deceased person;
- Receiving any payments owed to the person (i.e. rents, interest payments, dividends, tax refunds, etc.);
- Identifying heirs and beneficiaries;
- Identifying and inventorying property;
- Reviewing claims against the estate to determine if the claims are valid;
- Paying valid debts of the decedent and the estate;
- Filing a final state and federal personal tax return and an estate tax return, if required;
- Distributing assets according to the terms of the will; and,
- Filing a final accounting with the court.
Some estates are more complex than other estates and may involve additional steps. It often helps to retain the services of a probate attorney to assist in probating an estate, especially if the person died without a will, the estate has substantial assets or debts, or an heir is contesting the validity or the terms of the will.
Probate is necessary because it is the legal process of giving an administrator the authority to close accounts, pay debts, and transfer property of the deceased person. Without a probate case, the administrator may not have legal authority to perform all tasks required to settle the financial affairs of the decedent.
What if There is No Will?
If the person died without a will, his or her estate must still go through probate to identify heirs, pay debts, and distribute property. However, Ohio intestate laws govern the probate process when a person dies without a will. Instead of the person making the decisions about how his or her property will be disbursed and who will receive property, the laws of Ohio decide that for the person.
An intestate probate case can take longer and cost more because of the additional steps required by intestate law that may not be necessary when the deceased had executed a will before his or her death. Dying without a will also poses other problems including:
- A friend, charity, and some blood relatives may not inherit from your estate;
- You cannot provide for the care and upkeep of a pet;
- Minor children may inherit substantial sums when they turn 18 years of age;
- The court chooses the guardian and conservator for minor children;
- You have no say in who manages your estate;
- Heirs may not receive specific items that you intended for them to receive from your estate; and,
- Heirs may argue about what you “intended” because there is nothing in writing stating your wishes.
Fortunately, all the above issues and more issues can be addressed and avoided by simply having a will and a comprehensive estate plan.
What is Included in an Estate Plan?
An estate plan may be as simple as drafting and executing a will. However, our estate planning attorneys will discuss several important estate planning tools that can help you protect yourself, your loved ones, and your assets in various scenarios. Documents you may include in your estate plan are:
- Last Will and Testament
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Directive, Living Will Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Trusts for Minors, Pets, Spouses, or Others
- Limited Power of Attorney
- Beneficiary Designations
- Guardianship Documents
- DNR Order (Do Not Resuscitate order)
- Funeral and Burial Notes and Instructions
There are many options available for an estate plan. Our Kettering estate planning attorneys can help you develop a plan that meets your needs and the needs of your loved ones.
Call Today for Peace of Mind
We want to help you gain peace of mind for yourself and your family. Contact Lovett & House by telephone at (937) 429-7730 today schedule an appointment with an experienced Kettering probate attorney.