In Ohio, many different legal issues can end up being handled in family probate court. Unfortunately, the probate court process can be complicated, costly, and can result in undesirable outcomes under certain circumstances. You may not want important legal issues that arise to be addressed in probate court, and you can often opt out of having those issues decided in probate court if you simply make an incapacity plan and an estate plan.
An experienced estate planning lawyer at Zimmer Law Firm can provide you with the help that you need to understand why you want to keep your loved ones out of family probate court, and can offer you assistance with making use of Ohio’s legal tools to avoid probate court proceedings. To find out more about the assistance we can offer, give us a call at 513.721.1513 to speak with a member of our legal team.
When Would Your Family Have to Go to Family Probate Court?
There are a few key situations in which families end up in probate court. Two of the most common reasons for families to go to probate court include guardianship proceedings and estate administration or probating an estate.
Guardianship proceedings become necessary when someone is incapacitated. Close family members of the person who is sick or hurt and who cannot speak for himself will typically end up initiating guardianship proceedings. It will be necessary to prove that the incapacitated person is actually unable to act of his own accord. That incapacitated person will be declared a ward and the probate court will appoint a guardian. The guardian will act on behalf of the ward and the court will oversee the guardian’s actions.
Probate proceedings usually become necessary after someone has passed away, unless plans were made to avoid probate. This process involves an executor or estate administrator facilitating the settling of the estate. Notifications have to be provided to heirs and to the creditors that the deceased has outstanding obligations to. The validity of a will, if any, must be determined or intestacy law must determine how property is distributed. The formal process of transferring assets will take place during probate.
While there are other reasons to go to family probate court, including getting marriage licenses, probate and guardianship are two of the most common reasons families end up within this court and are the two main processes which it can make sense to try to avoid.
Why Keep Your Family Out of Family Probate Court?
There are lots of reasons why you may wish to keep your loved ones out of family probate court. Some of the main reasons why it can make sense to try to avoid probate and guardianship proceedings include:
- Costs. Probate can cost anywhere from three to seven percent of the value of an estate, according to Investopedia. If you avoid probate, your family isn’t going to lose out on this significant percentage of the assets that you have left behind.
- Delays. If your loved ones must pursue guardianship proceedings, there can be a delay in asset management and decision-making in the event of incapacity. If an estate has to be probated, there is a delay in the process of inheriting assets. This can be a problem for those who are waiting on an inheritance because they counted on the deceased person for financial support.
- Undesirable outcomes. Probate proceedings and guardianship proceedings can result in undesirable outcomes, such as someone being appointed as a guardian who you would not have chosen or a will being invalidated. These outcomes can be avoided using other estate planning and incapacity planning methods.
There are a variety of different tools that can be used in an attempt to avoid probate and guardianship proceedings and to keep your family out of probate court. Examples of these legal tools include a power of attorney, living trust, and advanced directives to make your preferences known and appoint someone to act on your behalf in case of incapacity. These tools can help to avoid guardianship. To avoid probate, you can use tools like joint ownership, pay on death accounts, and trusts. An experienced attorney can provide you with guidance on how best to avoid family probate.
How Can an Ohio Estate Planning and Probate Lawyer Help?
Zimmer Law Firm has extensive experience helping people to create a comprehensive estate plan that helps their families to avoid probate. To find out more about the estate planning process, download our estate planning checklist. You can also give us a call at 513.721.1513 to get personalized advice on how your loved ones can avoid probate.