All You Need to Know About the Probate Process in Ohio
The experience of losing a loved is one of the most difficult ever. Regardless of whether the death was sudden or expected, it is always a painful experience that you wish will just go away.
Unfortunately, the fact of death doesn’t just go away as it will bring up many attendant situations that will need looking after. One of such that will definitely come up sooner than later is the estate administration process.
Otherwise called probate, the process is designed to help you resolve the legal issues that will arise relating to the property your loved one owned in life. When you are the deceased’s survivor in a death that occurred in Kentucky or anywhere in Ohio, you will have to start thinking about the process within a few months of the death.
The Ohio probate and estate administration process can be stressful though. It can throw up twists and turns that you may not be psychologically ready for, and apart from this, it can take several months to a year to complete.
To have a stress free process, you will need to rely on lawyers that are experts in estate planning and the probate process in Ohio. Their expertise will not only enable you to complete the process as swiftly as possible, you will also be able to leverage on their experience for a positive outcome.
Above all, you will require lawyers that are discreet, compassionate and uncompromising when it concerns your interests. This is what we promise you at Shur Law. We appreciate how harrowing it is to lose a loved one and understand how you just want to be left with your cherished memories.
We will handle all the legal issues and ensure that you not only have the time to reflect on your cherished memories in peace, but also have the assurance of a swift, positive, discreet process.
Understanding the Ohio probate and estate administration process
Probate is a legal process of administration of certain kinds of property owned by someone who has died (the decedent). The administration is usually carried out according to the instructions left in the decedent’s will. If the decedent died intestate (without a will), his or her estate is administered under the Ohio law. In a situation where the deceased left a will, the process normally includes:
- Proving the validity of the will of the deceased
- Identifying and inventorying all property owned by the deceased
- Appraising the estate of the deceased
- Settling all debts and paying all taxes
- Ensuring that the remaining property is distributed as the will directs
In general, the probate process clarifies issues in a will and resolves any challenges to the distribution of funds of an estate. The necessity of probate is dependent on several factors including:
- What property the deceased owned
- How it was held
- The law of the state in which the deceased died
- The laws of any states where the deceased held property
Terms to Know
The explanation of these terms will help you better understand how they are used in this guide.
Estate Taxes: Taxes the government levies when a property is transferred after death.
Executor: The person who ensures the estate is disposed according to the deceased’s wishes.
Administrator: The person charged with disposing of a deceased’s estate if that person died without a will.
Fiduciary: This term is sometimes used to refer to both administrator and executor. Fiduciary can also refer to Trustees.
Testator: The legal term for the person who wrote a will
Intestate: Someone who died without writing a will.
Decedent: The deceased
What is the probate process in Ohio and Kentucky?
It is important to note that not all of the property owned by a decedent qualifies as probate property.
In Kentucky, the standard court-based probate process begins with the preparation of a Petition for Probate. This petition is usually filed with the District Court of the county in which the decedent lived when he or she died.
The Petition provides the court with basic information about the estate, such as the decedent’s identity and date of death. It also discloses whether a Will exists, the decedent’s next of kin, the proposed fiduciary, and an estimate of the estate property and value.
The process of administering the estate will vary depending on whether the decedent had a valid will and the size of the estate.
Probate process for a small estate
In Ohio, if the decedent’s estate is small enough, the law allows the estate to be probated using a simplified process called “release from administration” or “summary release from probate”.
A Release from Administration is allowed when the assets to be transferred of the deceased’s estate is below court set limits. The small probate process will apply when:
- There is a surviving spouse who inherits all the probate property (either stated in the decedent’s will or if there is no will, by state law), and the assets are under $100,000.
- There is no surviving spouse and the assets are under $35,000
The process is usually shorter, involves less paperwork, and is less expensive. It usually takes about two to four months, after which the probate court orders the estate assets to be distributed to the people who inherit them.
A Summary Release from Probate is even less burdensome than a Release from Administration. It is applicable when:
- There is a surviving spouse who inherits everything and is entitled by law to a family support allowance.
- The estate is worth no more than $45,000
- There is no surviving spouse and value of the estate is less than $5,000 or the funeral expenses amount to $5,000.
Filing for both release of administration and summary release of administration costs between $110 and $120. Before the court officially issues the Release of Administration, there are four conditions that need to be met.
- The value of the estate meets the required financial limit.
- All of the assets of the estate that qualify for probate are accurately listed in the documents filed with the court at the time of processing.
- All relevant parties, including heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors have received sufficient notice of the application for a Release from Administration and any related hearing.
- The approval of the application does not prejudice or prevent creditors from bringing a claim against the estate at a later date.
What kind of assets qualify for probate?
Assets that qualify for probate are those that are registered in the name of the decedent only. Examples include:
- Bank accounts in the decedent’s name with no co-owner and no beneficiary designation.
- Real estate that is owned by the decedent individually.
- Real estate that is co-owned as tenants in common.
- Stocks and bonds in the decedent’s name.
- Tangible possessions such as clothing, jewelry, household furniture and cars registered in the decedent’s name only.
What kind of assets skip probate?
- Property in a revocable living trust. These are usually designed to avoid probate.
- Assets owned as joint tenant with a right of survivorship. These automatically pass to the surviving owner.
- Assets held by a married couple in tenancy by the entirety. This is available only if the tenancy by entirety was created between 1972 and 1984.
- Life insurance policies and retirement accounts with a designated beneficiary
- Bank accounts with payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) clause.
- Real estate subject to an Ohio transfer on death “designation affidavit”
Who conducts a probate / estate administration proceeding?
Generally, the person named to serve as executor in the decedent’s will takes charge of the estate. If the decedent died intestate, or the named executor is not available, or willing to serve, the probate court will appoint someone to serve as administrator. If there is a surviving spouse, he or she has first priority to be appointed as administrator.
Once the court issues a document called “Letter of Authority”, the executor’s job consists of proving the validity of the will and settling the estate. The executor must also be careful to record accurately, the details of how the estate assets were handled and distributed.
What is the cost and duration of formal probate?
The cost of formal probate can be really high, which is why so many people take steps to avoid it. In Ohio, the costs commonly include:
- Court costs (usually between $200 and $250)
- Executor or administrator’s fee, which is usually based on a percentage of the value of the probate estate
- Attorney fees
- Appraisal fees
- Federal estate tax (if the estate is large enough)
- Most probate proceedings can be wrapped up in about nine months after the executor or administrator is appointed. Creditors have six months to file a claim, so the probate proceedings should last at least that long. If the estate owes state or federal tax, it is likely to last a year or longer.
Contact us for help with your probate and estate administration needs
At Shur Law, we have extensive experience in estate planning, administration and probate. We are able to bring this considerable experience to bear when we handle your case. Every case is unique, and we are dedicated to giving your case the special, personal attention it deserves.
Please call us on 1-513-448-4099 or fill our online form to schedule a no-obligation consultation today.