probate law

Probate is a legal process that some people will encounter when settling an estate. There are several steps, making it a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid heading through the courts. If you would like to learn more about probate in Ohio, here are a few points to keep in mind. 

The Process in Ohio

After a person passes away, their estate could end up in probate. Sometimes, there is a will, but other times, the person died without one, which is considered intestate. One of the first steps is to validate the will. This process also involves identifying and appraising the deceased person’s assets. Many times, an estate will have:

  • Real estate
  • Personal property
  • Investment and retirement accounts
  • Other valuable possessions

During this time, an executor is designated. They will handle all of the probate steps, from filing the initial paperwork to ensuring all assets are properly distributed. The executor is also responsible for keeping the beneficiaries informed about the progress of the probate proceedings. 

Along with that, any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased person must be addressed. The executor will need to notify creditors, settle debts, and pay applicable taxes from the estate assets. In all cases, taxes and debts must be settled before any remaining assets can be passed to the beneficiaries. 

As you can imagine, the probate process can be lengthy, depending on the complexity of the estate. Anything from disputes between the heirs, contested wills, or the need to sell real estate or other assets can extend the timeline. Sometimes, finalizing the estate can take several months to a year or more. 

Are All Assets Subject to Probate?

Fortunately, not all assets will have to pass through this process. Many times, it is only the assets solely owned by the descendant that end up in probate, such as:

  • Bank accounts
  • Real estate 
  • Personal belongings

Since many people want to avoid this process, there are a few steps to keep your estate out of the courts. 

Avoiding Probate 

Avoiding probate can save time and money, but it can also provide privacy. Remember that probate records are public. 

One common way to avoid this process is through joint ownership. With this, the property is owned jointly with the right of survivorship. When one owner passes away, the property automatically passes to the surviving owner without having to go through the probate process. 

Another option in Ohio is to use payable-on-death (POD) designations. This can be used for bank accounts and securities. With a POD, the designated beneficiary can claim the assets directly without the need for probate. 

For individuals who want to avoid probate for the majority of their assets, setting up a living trust is an ideal choice. All assets held in the trust can bypass the probate process. When the person passes away, their trustee transfers the assets to the named beneficiaries without court involvement. 

In any of these cases, you will need to weigh the pros and cons of each option. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. While avoiding probate can save time and money and provide privacy, each method has drawbacks and costs.

Learn More About Avoiding Probate

While probate in Ohio offers a structured process for settling an estate, it can also be lengthy, costly, and public. For that reason, many people want to avoid this process. Since every estate has unique circumstances, you will want to consult with a legal professional to determine the best option. 

If you would like to learn more, make sure to contact  the team at Axelrod Law Office in Lake County, OH. Call our office at (440) 271-8126 or submit a contact form to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation.