Probate is often misunderstood because of the variables associated with it. Each state has its own laws and dynamics, some require courtroom appearances while others don’t – it can be frustrating. In Ohio, probate is simply a legal proceeding that determines how some kinds of property are distributed after the owner has died.
Executor or Administrator?
First thing you should know, are two distinctions associated with the people involved. Let’s set the record straight on how often-interchanged descriptions are really quite different when it comes to probate in Ohio.
An executor is someone you’ve named in your Will, or other estate planning documents, to oversee the administration of your estate.
An administrator is someone who’s selected by the courts in the absence of a Will or other estate plan. This could be a family member or even a bank, depending on the intricacies of any given case.
The Role of the Executor
So what are the responsibilities of the executor or administrator? Of course, they’ll vary from one estate to another, but generally, your named executor or the court appointed administrator should expect to oversee include collecting assets owed to the estate. This might include dividends and other income. He must also contact anyone named in the Will or the heirs, as applicable. Debts must be paid, taxes must be paid (including ensuring tax returns are filed) and he must oversee the final dissolution of the estate.
Probate can be avoided, provided you have strong estate planning protections in place. One often overlooked option includes setting up Trusts for loved ones. It may seem overwhelming, but it’s actually an affordable and easy effort that can serve a multitude of purposes.
The Better the Preparations, the Shorter the Probate Process
Provided there are no wrinkles, probate in Ohio can typically be resolved in a few months; however, if there were problems with the Will or other estate planning document, it could drag on for a year or longer. If you’ve gone to the effort of proper estate planning, you don’t want it to defeat your purpose. Your estate planning lawyer can make sure that never happens.
The Family Tree
Finally, because of the requirements associated with Ohio probate law, it’s important to choose someone who is both motivated and organized. If you die intestate, the courts will name your spouse as the administrator. If your spouse is deceased or prefers to not oversee the probate process, the next of kin is asked to fill the role.
This is a very brief overview of the Ohio probate process. For a more in depth explanation, we invite you to contact our office to learn more about estate planning, retirement planning and other important decisions you’ll need to make. The decisions you make now can have far reaching effects years down the road.