Probate in Ohio
Probate is a legal process in which a deceased individual’s estate is inventoried and transferred to the rightful heirs. Not all assets will need to be distributed this way, but most estates will have at least a portion go through probate.
In general, the more comprehensive an estate plan is, the less probate is needed. Most assets that have been put into a trust (like a revocable living trust) will not have to go through probate, and any property or assets that are held jointly in a “survivorship tenancy” will automatically transfer to the new owner. Additionally, investments or retirement accounts that have named beneficiaries will not have to go through probate. On the other hand, if an individual dies with assets in their name only and a simple will — or no will at all — most of their estate will have to go through the probate process.
Types of Probate
Formal Probate: Formal probate is the lengthier process for complex estates valued at over $100,000 or when there are disputes between the beneficiaries. In formal probate, a petition is made with the court, all assets must be inventoried and assessed, creditors have an opportunity to file claims, and heirs are located and assets distributed. This process usually takes at least nine months.
Simplified Probate for Small Estates: The simplified version of probate is designed for estates valued under $100,000 that a surviving spouse will inherit (even without a will), or for beneficiaries if the estate is under $35,000. With simplified probate, you can expect the process to take between two to four months.
The Probate Administration Process
If the deceased person has left a will, the named executor will manage this process along with the courts. If there is no named executor, the court will assign an administrator, usually the surviving spouse or another close family member. The executor is then responsible for inventorying (and sometimes finding) the deceased person’s assets, having them appraised, paying off any debts or taxes, and overseeing that the distribution of the assets is run smoothly and accurately. Throughout this process, the executor or administrator must keep records of everything they do for the court, as well as to reimburse themselves for their time.