Generally speaking, probate is a legal process that an estate must pass through when a simple will is utilized. This being stated, there are simplified probate procedures in some states, and Ohio is one of them.
Simplified Probate Procedure
Small estates may qualify for a simplified probate procedure in the state of Ohio. To take advantage of this shortcut, the executor must submit a written request to the probate court. If it is approved, the assets can be distributed without exposure to the full probate process.
There are three different reasons why the court may allow a simplified probate procedure. If the estate’s value does not exceed $5000 or the amount of funeral expenses, a party that paid for funeral expenses can file a request for a summary release.
When an estate is valued at $35,000 or less, an inheritor can apply for simplified probate. They would be required to notify the surviving spouse if there is one and any other heirs. The court may require the publication of a notice in a newspaper to make the filing public.
The final reason for a simplified procedure request is for estates that are valued at $100,000 or less and the surviving spouse is inheriting it in its entirety.
There are a handful different types of transfers that are simply not subject to any form of probate. When you open an account at a bank or a brokerage, you can name a beneficiary. They would not have access to the resources while you are living, but they would inherit the account when you are gone.
This transfer would not be subject to probate. There are 19 states in the union that allow payable on death motor vehicle registrations, and Ohio is one of them. Transfers of a payable on death account to a beneficiary do not have to go through probate.
If you own property, you can create a joint tenancy, which is a condition of joint ownership. When one joint tenant passes away, the other joint tenant inherits the deceased tenant’s interest in the property. This is a probate-free transfer.
The problem with joint tenancy is the fact that a person that you name as a joint tenant would own half of the property as soon as you execute the documents. As a result, if they are sued for any reason, their portion of the property would be available to litigants.
Another drawback is a loss of control of the property because you would not be able to sell or mortgage it without the full cooperation of the joint tenant.
When an individual retirement account is handed down to a beneficiary, the probate court is not involved. Life insurance proceeds are transferred to the beneficiaries outside of probate.
Another way to avoid probate is to use a living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan instead of a simple will. You would be the trustee while you are living, and you control the assets. After your passing, the trustee would distribute resources to the beneficiaries.
Probate would not be a factor, and you can establish the terms of the distributions when you are drawing up the trust. You do not have to provide lump sum distributions all at once if you would rather spread them out as a protective measure.
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