Estate Administration & Probate
In Ohio, there are clear, step-by-step procedures for administering a person’s final affairs, whether he or she died with or without a will. The process of administering a person’s will is known as “probate,” while implementing the terms of revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, and other alternative estate-planning tools is referred to more broadly as “estate administration.”
However, while Ohio’s probate and estate administration procedures are less complicated than those in many other states, it is still common for personal representatives, beneficiaries, heirs, and other interested parties to run into issues during the process. From choosing the correct form of probate to dealing with will contests and other disputes in probate litigation, there are a number of reasons why those preparing for probate or estate administration may need the help of an experienced, licensed attorney.
If you have been named executor of someone’s estate, or if you have recently lost a loved one and want to make sure that his or her final wishes are carried through, Hannah & Abbie can help. They are compassionate advocates who take a diligent and thorough approach to protecting their clients’ interests.
Our Approach to Probate and Estate Administration Services
While probate is a legal process, it is also deeply personal and emotional, and it touches people in a way that is unique in the legal field. It can also be confusing for those who are not familiar with the options and procedures that are involved, and mistakes can lead to delays at a time when most people simply want to do what is necessary as quickly as possible.
Understanding the Probate Process in Ohio
While everyone’s situation is unique, there are certain uniform steps that everyone can expect to encounter during probate:
- Gather the facts, including interpretation of the decedent’s will
- Filing the application to initiate probate
- Inventory and appraisal of estate assets
- Payment of valid creditors’ claims
- Transfer of remaining estate assets to beneficiaries and heirs
- Making all necessary tax filings
- Making and filing and account of all receipts and disbursements for court approval
What is a Letter of Testamentary?
If you have been told that you need a “Letter of Testamentary,” in order to obtain the letter you will need to go to court to get one. A Letter of Testamentary, or as we call it in Ohio, “Letters of Authority,” is a court order listing the name the individual who has been authorized by the court to deal with assets of an estate,. In order to obtain the Letter, you must apply to the court to open a probate proceeding. We can help you.
What are the steps involved in non-probate estate administration?
In a typical scenario, the primary steps involved in non-probate estate administration include:
- Ascertaining with assets have beneficiaries named
- Provising a death certificate and information about the beneficiary to the holding institution
- Recording the death with the county recorder for real estate with a named beneficiary
- Recording the death with the county title agency for motor vehicles with a named beneficiary
- Implementing the terms of revocable and irrevocable trusts
What if my loved one left a will and a trust?
This is actually a very common scenario. Whenever an estate plan includes a trust, it will also typically include a will that covers guardianship of minor children, appointment of the decedent’s personal representative, and distribution of any non-trust assets. Administering an estate under these circumstances will involve both probate and non-probate procedures.
What is the role of a personal representative?
A personal representative is the individual tasked with overseeing the probate and estate administration processes. The Personal Representative has certain “fiduciary” duties, and must perform those duties with due consideration for the interests of the decedent’s estate, as well as the estate’s beneficiaries. Executors, Administrators, and Trustees are all types of personal representatives.
What are some of the types of issues that can lead to probate litigation?
While litigation is a possibility, it is possible that the parties will resolve their differences out of court. There are several common issues that can potentially lead to probate litigation:
- Allegations of undue influence on the person who made the Last Will and Testament
- Allegations of theft of estate assets
- Disagreements over interpretation of the terms of a will
- Disputes among beneficiaries and heirs
- Disputes regarding creditors’ claims
- Fiduciary claims against the personal representative or executor
When do beneficiaries and heirs receive assets from decedent’s estate?
Before any assets can be distributed to beneficiaries and heirs, all valid creditors’ claims and all taxes must be satisfied. Once the decedent’s debts have been analyzed, appropriate notices have been sent, and any creditors have had the opportunity to secure payment, then the remaining assets in the estate can be distributed according to the decedent’s estate plan. In any event, probate and trust assets are generally not disbursed to heirs or beneficiaries until at least six months after the decedent’s death.
Will I need to come to Ohio to probate my loved one’s estate?
If you are facing probate in Ohio due to the death of a loved one, we can assist you remotely and handle the majority of the process on your behalf. We represent clients all over the state, and we will schedule appointments at times that are convenient for you. However, there may be circumstances in which you will need to appear personally in the probate court.
We offer free consultations so that you can make an informed decision about your legal representation without the pressure of paying a retainer fee. Ask us your questions, and we will walk you through the process and the time frame. To schedule a consultation, contact our Worthington law office online or call (614) 678-8848.